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The Impact of Jury Race in Criminal Trials

  • Shamena Anwar
  • Patrick Bayer
  • Randi Hjalmarsson

This paper examines the impact of jury racial composition on trial outcomes using a unique data set of felony trials in Florida between 2000 and 2010. We utilize a research design that exploits day-to-day variation in the composition of the jury pool to isolate quasi-random variation in the composition of the seated jury, finding evidence that: (i) juries formed from all-white jury pools convict black defendants significantly (16 percentage points) more often than white defendants and (ii) this gap in conviction rates is entirely eliminated when the jury pool includes at least one black member. The impact of jury race is much greater than what a simple correlation of the race of the seated jury and conviction rates would suggest. These findings imply that the application of justice is highly uneven and raise obvious concerns about the fairness of trials in jurisdictions with a small proportion of blacks in the jury pool.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w16366.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16366.

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Date of creation: Sep 2010
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Publication status: published as Shamena Anwar & Patrick Bayer & Randi Hjalmarsson, 2012. "The Impact of Jury Race in Criminal Trials," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 127(2), pages 1017-1055.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16366
Note: LE PE
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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  1. Mustard, David B, 2001. "Racial, Ethnic, and Gender Disparities in Sentencing: Evidence from the U.S. Federal Courts," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 44(1), pages 285-314, April.
  2. Shamena Anwar & Hanming Fang, 2006. "An Alternative Test of Racial Prejudice in Motor Vehicle Searches: Theory and Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(1), pages 127-151, March.
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