Attorney empowerment in Voir Dire and the racial composition of juries
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.
|Date of creation:||16 Nov 2011|
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- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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