The Impact of Jury Race in Criminal Trials

40 Pages Posted: 20 Sep 2010 Last revised: 20 Sep 2021

See all articles by Shamena Anwar

Shamena Anwar

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

Patrick J. Bayer

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

Randi Hjalmarsson

University of Maryland - School of Public Policy

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: September 2010

Abstract

This paper examines the impact of jury racial composition on trial outcomes using a unique data set of felony trials in Florida between 2000 and 2010. 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, finding evidence that: (i) juries formed from all-white jury pools convict black defendants significantly (16 percentage points) more often than white defendants and (ii) this gap in conviction rates is entirely eliminated when the jury pool includes at least one black member. The impact of jury race is much greater than what a simple correlation of the race of the seated jury and conviction rates would suggest. These findings imply that the application of justice is highly uneven and raise obvious concerns about the fairness of trials in jurisdictions with a small proportion of blacks in the jury pool.

Suggested Citation

Anwar, Shamena and Bayer, Patrick J. and Hjalmarsson, Randi, The Impact of Jury Race in Criminal Trials (September 2010). NBER Working Paper No. w16366, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1678909

Shamena Anwar (Contact Author)

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

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States

Patrick J. Bayer

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

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