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Justice, Juries, and Convictions: The Relevance of Race in Jury Verdicts

NCJ Number
Journal of Crime and Justice Volume: 31 Issue: 1 Dated: 2008 Pages: 149-169
Marian R. Williams; Melissa W. Burek
Date Published
21 pages
Building upon previous research, this study analyzed the relationship between the racial composition of the jury and conviction of African-American defendants.
General results indicated that the percentage of Whites on a jury was related to the likelihood of conviction of African-American defendants, suggesting that there was some “out-group bias” occurring. Previous research has suggested that the racial composition of a jury plays a role in the likelihood of conviction of certain defendants. In general, it has been supported that White jury members are more likely to vote to convict African-American defendants, while African-American jury members are more likely to vote to acquit African-American defendants. Prior research has suffered from flaws that could possibly affect these outcomes. As a result, existing jury research has failed to fully capture or explain the factors that are related to jury decisionmaking in non-capital felony trials. This study examined the behavior of actual juries in non-capital felony trials to determine if bias existed in the conviction of African-American defendants. The data examined contained detailed information about the trials as well as information about juror perceptions of that information. Previous research was helpful in providing a framework for study, but this study expands on this research and provides a more complete assessment of jury decisionmaking. Tables, notes, references