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The Impact of Jury Race in Criminal Trials

40 Pages Posted: 10 Sep 2010 Last revised: 22 Sep 2011

Patrick J. Bayer

Duke University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Randi Hjalmarsson

University of Maryland - School of Public Policy

Shamena Anwar

Carnegie Mellon University - H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management

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Date Written: September 1, 2011

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

Bayer, Patrick J. and Hjalmarsson, Randi and Anwar, Shamena, The Impact of Jury Race in Criminal Trials (September 1, 2011). Economic Research Initiatives at Duke (ERID) Working Papers Series No. 55. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1673994 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1673994

Patrick J. Bayer (Contact Author)

Duke University - Department of Economics ( email )

213 Social Sciences Building
Box 90097
Durham, NC 27708-0204
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Randi Hjalmarsson

University of Maryland - School of Public Policy ( email )

College Park
College Park, MD 20742
United States

Shamena Anwar

Carnegie Mellon University - H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States

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