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Journal Article

Excuses, Excuses: Neutral Explanations Under Batson v. Kentucky

About: This article is published in University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform.The article was published on 1993-01-01 and is currently open access. It has received 18 citations till now.

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TL;DR: The influence of jury selection questions extended previous findings that blatant racial issues at trial increase leniency toward a Black defendant, demonstrating that the effects of diversity do not occur solely through information exchange.
Abstract: This research examines the multiple effects of racial diversity on group decision-making. Participants deliberated on the trial of a Black defendant as members of racially homogeneous or heterogeneous mock juries. Half of the groups were exposed to pretrial jury selection questions about racism and half were not. Deliberation analyses supported the prediction that diverse groups would exchange a wider range of information than all-White groups. This finding was not wholly attributable to the performance of Black participants, as Whites cited more case facts, made fewer errors, and were more amenable to discussion of racism when in diverse versus all-White groups. Even before discussion, Whites in diverse groups were more lenient towards the Black defendant, demonstrating that the effects of diversity do not occur solely through information exchange. The influence of jury selection questions extended previous findings that blatant racial issues at trial increase leniency towards a Black defendant.

366 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: This article examined the effect of racial diversity on group decision-making in the trial of a Black defendant. But, they did not examine the impact of race on the outcome of the trial and found that Whites in diverse groups were more lenient toward the Black defendant than all whites.
Abstract: This research examines the multiple effects of racial diversity on group decision making. Participants deliberated on the trial of a Black defendant as members of racially homogeneous or heterogeneous mock juries. Half of the groups were exposed to pretrial jury selection questions about racism and half were not. Deliberation analyses supported the prediction that diverse groups would exchange a wider range of information than all-White groups. This finding was not wholly attributable to the performance of Black participants, as Whites cited more case facts, made fewer errors, and were more amenable to discussion of racism when in diverse versus all-White groups. Even before discussion, Whites in diverse groups were more lenient toward the Black defendant, demonstrating that the effects of diversity do not occur solely through information exchange. The influence of jury selection questions extended previous findings that blatant racial issues at trial increase leniency toward a Black defendant.

326 citations

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TL;DR: Results demonstrate that race does influence peremptory use, but these judgments are typically justified in race-neutral terms that effectively mask the biasing effects of race.
Abstract: The peremptory challenge remained an inviolate jury selection tool in the United States until the Supreme Court's decision in Batson v. Kentucky (1986). Batson's prohibition against race-based peremptories was based on two assumptions: 1) a prospective juror's race can bias jury selection judgments; 2) requiring attorneys to justify suspicious peremptories enables judges to determine whether a challenge is, indeed, race-neutral. The present investigation examines these assumptions through an experimental design using three participant populations: college students, advanced law students, and practicing attorneys. Results demonstrate that race does influence peremptory use, but these judgments are typically justified in race-neutral terms that effectively mask the biasing effects of race. The psychological processes underlying these tendencies are discussed, as are practical implications for the legal system.

60 citations


Cites background or result from "Excuses, Excuses: Neutral Explanati..."

  • ...%) of these instances was the attorney unable to persuade the judge that the peremptory challenge in question was race-neutral, and in only 55 instances (1.8% of the sample) did the attorney admit that race influenced peremptory use (see also McGonigle et al., 2005; Raphael & Ungvarsky, 1993)....

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  • ...One of the few instances when it seems possible for biased peremptory use to be identified is when an attorney challenges a Black member of the venire on the basis of characteristics also possessed by an empaneled White juror (Melilli, 1996; Raphael & Ungvarsky, 1993)....

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  • ...Batson challenges As Batson placed the first practically meaningful restrictions on peremptory use, its enforcement necessitated a new two-step procedure....

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  • ...Justifications for peremptories therefore leave judges with little basis for rejecting them, as demonstrated by archival analyses (Melilli, 1996; Raphael & Ungvarsky, 1993)....

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  • ...…are based on criteria so ambiguous and subjective that it is easy to generate race-neutral justifications in most cases (Norton, Sommers, Vandello, & Darley, 2006), a conclusion consistent with archival analyses of peremptory use (McGonigle et al., 2005; Melilli, 1996; Raphael & Ungvarsky, 1993)....

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Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: This paper found no association between race and selection for a jury, and only a modest relationship for gender and selection, and the null finding for race masks a pattern of strikes by each party: Whites were likely to be excused by the defense, and African Americans by the state.
Abstract: Some view the peremptory challenge as crucial to a fair jury selection process, whereas for others, it is a tool for invidious race or gender discrimination. Nevertheless, debates utilize little empirical data regarding uses of this challenge. Data are reported from observation of a small number of criminal trials in one, largely biracial southeastern county. In the aggregate, there was no association between race and selection for a jury, and only a modest relationship for gender and selection. However, the null finding for race masks a pattern of strikes by each party: When dismissed, Whites were likely to be excused by the defense, and African Americans by the state. A trial-by-trial analysis showed that when disparities between venire and jury composition existed, the direction usually pointed to overrepresentation of African Americans and women on juries. Despite limited generalizability, the data suggest the need for a more informed debate about the peremptory challenge's use in modern criminal trials.

49 citations

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