The Impact of Jury Race in Criminal Trials
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.
We thank Peter Arcidiacono, Dan Black, Marcus Casey, Jane Cooley, Kerwin Charles, Jonah Gelbach, Larry Katz, John Kennan, Derek Neal, Jeremy Stein, Chris Taber, Christopher Winship and seminar participants at Carnegie Mellon, Chicago, Columbia, Duke, Rochester, Syracuse, Wisconsin and the NBER Summer Institute and five anonymous referees for many helpful comments and suggestions on earlier drafts of this paper. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Shamena Anwar & Patrick Bayer & Randi Hjalmarsson, 2012. "The Impact of Jury Race in Criminal Trials," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 127(2), pages 1017-1055. citation courtesy of