Cops and Convicts: An Exploratory Field Study of Jurymandering
21 Pages Posted: 17 Aug 2018 Last revised: 16 Jan 2019
Date Written: February 20, 2018
Forty-nine states, the federal government, and the District of Columbia statutorily limit convicted felons’ opportunities to serve as jurors. One of the primary justifications for felon juror exclusion alleges that convicted felons harbor an inherent bias in favor of criminal defendants and adversarial towards prosecutorial agents. The justification presumes that such a bias would undermine the impartiality of the jury. This exploratory field study builds on prior research examining the pre-trial biases of convicted felons and is the first to assess 1) jurisdictional approaches to law enforcement juror eligibility criteria and 2) the pre-trial biases of law enforcement personnel. To do so, this study surveys 211 active law enforcement personnel using the Revised Juror Bias Scale and compares that data to prior studies of convicted felons’ pre-trial biases. Results indicate that law enforcement personnel, as a group, harbor a pro-prosecution pre-trial bias as strong as the pro-defense pre-trial bias exhibited by convicted felons. Still, while the vast majority of jurisdictions exclude convicted felons from jury service, only a handful bar law enforcement personnel from the venire. These results ostensibly call into question the empirical validity of the inherent bias rationale and the true purpose for felon juror exclusion statutes.
Keywords: Juror, Jury, Law Enforcement, Convicted Felon, Bias, Exclusion
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