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Jury Discrimination in Criminal Trials

Author

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  • Shamena Anwar

    (Carnegie Mellon University)

  • Patrick Bayer

    (Duke University)

  • Randi Hjalmarsson

    (Queen Mary, University of London)

Abstract

This paper examines the impact of jury racial composition on trial outcomes using a unique dataset of all felony trials in Sarasota County, Florida between 2004 and 2009. 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. We find strong evidence that all-white juries acquit whites more often and are less favorable to black versus white defendants when compared to juries with at least one black member. Using the Anwar-Fang rank order test, we find strong statistical evidence of discrimination on the basis of defendant race. These results are consistent with racial prejudice on the part of white jurors, black jurors, or both. Using a simple model of jury selection and decision-making, we replicate the entire set of empirical regularities observed in the data, including the fact that blacks in the jury pool are just as likely as whites to be seated. Simulations of the model suggest that jurors of each race are heterogeneous in the standards of evidence that they require to convict and that both black and white defendants would prefer to face jurors of the same race.

Suggested Citation

  • Shamena Anwar & Patrick Bayer & Randi Hjalmarsson, 2010. "Jury Discrimination in Criminal Trials," Working Papers 671, Queen Mary University of London, School of Economics and Finance.
  • Handle: RePEc:qmw:qmwecw:wp671
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    File URL: http://www.econ.qmul.ac.uk/media/econ/research/workingpapers/archive/wp671.pdf
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    Cited by:

    1. Ilić, Dragan, 2016. "Self-fulfilling Prophecies in Rank Order Tests," Working papers 2016/05, Faculty of Business and Economics - University of Basel.
    2. Sarah Marx Quintanar, 2011. "Do Driver Decisions in Traffic Court Motivate Police Discrimination in Issuing Speeding Tickets?," Departmental Working Papers 2011-13, Department of Economics, Louisiana State University.
    3. Hällsten, Martin & Sarnecki, Jerzy & Szulkin, Ryszard, 2011. "Crime as a Price of Inequality? The Delinquency Gap between Children of Immigrants and Children of Native Swedes," SULCIS Working Papers 2011:1, Stockholm University, Linnaeus Center for Integration Studies - SULCIS.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Discrimination; Race; Jury; Felony trials; Verdicts;

    JEL classification:

    • K14 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Criminal Law
    • K4 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination

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