IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Attorney empowerment in Voir Dire and the racial composition of juries


  • Lehmann, Jee-Yeon
  • Smith, Jeremy


Giving attorneys more power in the voir dire (jury selection) process may allow them to 1) find grounds for dismissal of jurors whom they wish to strike on a priori grounds; 2) acquire information that enables them to identify favorably-inclined jurors more precisely; or both. Attorneys who are more skilled can better use such increased power to retain the jurors they prefer. We show theoretically that, because defense attorneys prefer non-white jurors a priori, the interaction of empowerment and defense attorney skill should produce juries with a greater proportion of non-whites if only the first mechanism is operative, but need not have this effect if the second is operative. We then examine these issues using a detailed dataset on all non-capital felony trials in four large and diverse counties over a two-year period. We find that skilled and empowered attorneys can indeed stack juries by retaining jurors predisposed to their side at a greater rate, and that the distribution of relative attorney skill in our data is such that defendants benefit on average. However, we find that empowerment has a small and insignificant impact on the racial composition of the seated jury, regardless of attorney skill.

Suggested Citation

  • Lehmann, Jee-Yeon & Smith, Jeremy, 2011. "Attorney empowerment in Voir Dire and the racial composition of juries," MPRA Paper 36338, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:36338

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: original version
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Neilson, William S. & Winter, Harold, 2000. "Bias and the economics of jury selection," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 223-250, June.
    2. Lehmann, Jee-Yeon, 2011. "Job assignment and promotion under statistical discrimination: evidence from the early careers of lawyers," MPRA Paper 33466, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Moses Shayo & Asaf Zussman, 2011. "Judicial Ingroup Bias in the Shadow of Terrorism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(3), pages 1447-1484.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Discrimination; Voir Dire; Jury; Attorney Empowerment; Race;

    JEL classification:

    • K0 - Law and Economics - - General
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • C73 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Stochastic and Dynamic Games; Evolutionary Games

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:36338. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Joachim Winter) or (Rebekah McClure). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.