Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1374497
 
 

Citations (4)



 


 



Does Unconscious Racial Bias Affect Trial Judges?


Jeffrey J. Rachlinski


Cornell Law School

Sheri Lynn Johnson


Cornell Law School

Andrew J. Wistrich


California Central District Court

Chris Guthrie


Vanderbilt University - Law School


Notre Dame Law Review, Vol. 84, No. 3, 2009
Vanderbilt Public Law Research Paper No. 09-11

Abstract:     
Race matters in the criminal justice system. Black defendants appear to fare worse than similarly situated white defendants. Why? Implicit bias is one possibility. Researchers, using a well-known measure called the implicit association test, have found that most white Americans harbor implicit bias toward Black Americans. Do judges, who are professionally committed to egalitarian norms, hold these same implicit biases? And if so, do these biases account for racially disparate outcomes in the criminal justice system? We explored these two research questions in a multi-part study involving a large sample of trial judges drawn from around the country. Our results - which are both discouraging and encouraging - raise profound issues for courts and society. We find that judges harbor the same kinds of implicit biases as others; that these biases can influence their judgment; but that given sufficient motivation, judges can compensate for the influence of these biases.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 52

Keywords: Judges, race

JEL Classification: J7, K14

Accepted Paper Series


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Date posted: April 8, 2009  

Suggested Citation

Rachlinski , Jeffrey J. and Johnson, Sheri Lynn and Wistrich, Andrew J. and Guthrie, Chris, Does Unconscious Racial Bias Affect Trial Judges?. Notre Dame Law Review, Vol. 84, No. 3, 2009; Vanderbilt Public Law Research Paper No. 09-11. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1374497

Contact Information

Jeffrey John Rachlinski (Contact Author)
Cornell Law School ( email )
524 College Ave
Myron Taylor Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
United States
607-255-5878 (Phone)
607-255-7193 (Fax)
Sheri Lynn Johnson
Cornell Law School ( email )
524 College Ave
Myron Taylor Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
United States
607-255-6478 (Phone)
607-255-7193 (Fax)
Andrew J. Wistrich
California Central District Court ( email )
Los Angeles, CA 90012
United States
Chris Guthrie
Vanderbilt University - Law School ( email )
131 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203-1181
United States
615-322-6823 (Phone)
615-322-6631 (Fax)
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