Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=2365966
 


 



A Field Study of the Presumptively Biased: Is There Empirical Support for Excluding Convicted Felons from Jury Service?


James M. Binnall


University of California, Irvine; Savannah Law School

January 2014

Law & Policy, Vol. 36, Issue 1, pp. 1-34, 2014

Abstract:     
In the United States, a vast majority of jurisdictions statutorily exclude convicted felons from jury service. Justifying these exclusions, lawmakers and courts often cite the inherent bias rationale, which holds that convicted felons harbor a prodefense/antiprosecution pretrial bias that would jeopardize the impartiality of the jury process. The inherent bias rationale has never been the subject of empirical analysis. Instead, authorities seemingly accept the logic of the rationale unconditionally. This study (1) explores the prevalence, strength, and direction of convicted felons' pretrial biases; (2) compares the group‐level pretrial biases of convicted felons, nonfelon eligible jurors, and nonfelon law students; and (3) examines if and how a felony conviction shapes pretrial biases. The results of this study indicate that a majority of convicted felons harbor a prodefense/antiprosecution bias and, in this way, differ from eligible jurors generally. Yet, the results of this study also show that many convicted felons are neutral or harbor a proprosecution pretrial bias, and that the strength and direction of convicted felons' group‐level pretrial biases are similar to those of other groups of nonfelon jurors. In sum, this study suggests that while felon jury exclusion does not offend applicable constitutional standards, it is an imprecise and perhaps unnecessary practice that may come at substantial costs.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 34

Accepted Paper Series





Date posted: December 10, 2013  

Suggested Citation

Binnall, James M., A Field Study of the Presumptively Biased: Is There Empirical Support for Excluding Convicted Felons from Jury Service? (January 2014). Law & Policy, Vol. 36, Issue 1, pp. 1-34, 2014. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2365966 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/lapo.12015

Contact Information

James Michael Binnall (Contact Author)
University of California, Irvine ( email )
Campus Drive
Irvine, CA 62697-3125
United States
Savannah Law School ( email )
516 Drayton Street
Savannah, GA 31401
United States
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