The Science of Juror Racial Bias

Posted: 31 Aug 2018

Date Written: August 23, 2018


The presence of bias in the courtroom has the potential to undermine public faith in the adversarial process, distort trial outcomes, and obfuscate the search for justice. In Pena-Rodriguez v. Colorado (2017), the U.S. Supreme Court held for the first time that the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments required post-verdict judicial inquiry in criminal cases where racial bias clearly served as a “significant motivating factor” in juror decision-making. Courts will nonetheless likely struggle in interpreting what constitutes a "clear statement of racial bias" and whether such bias constituted a "significant motivating factor" in a juror's verdict. This Article will examine how courts have interpreted such bias in the year following Pena-Rodriguez, while advancing a model for future judicial analysis of racial bias that is informed by psychological and sociological findings on bias and group decision-making dynamics.

Keywords: Evidence, Constitutional Law, Science/Technology and Law, Interdisciplinary/Multidisciplinary; Race and the Law, Civil Rights/Social Justice

Suggested Citation

Sundquist, Christian, The Science of Juror Racial Bias (August 23, 2018). Denver University Law Review, 2018 Forthcoming. Available at SSRN:

Christian Sundquist (Contact Author)

Albany Law School ( email )

80 New Scotland Avenue
Albany, NY 12208
United States

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