Implicit Bias Jury Instructions
thesisposted on 2019-05-14, 00:00 authored by Alma Lawson-Garcia
The Sixth Amendment guarantees a defendant the right to an impartial jury; however, studies have shown that members of the jury are often unknowingly influenced by biases that are present in our social and cultural norms. Jurors, like all individuals have biases, both positive and negative, that can affect their decision-making. In order to ensure a fair trial, the jury must be aware of their biases, especially their implicit ones. Implicit biases are of particular concern because they are held at an unconscious level and can be extensive and difficult to change. The purpose of the following research was to determine whether all judicial jurisdictions in the United States should use implicit bias jury instructions in criminal trials. Implicit bias jury instructions introduce members of the jury to the concept of implicit bias and urges them to avoid such biases during trial. This research examined existing studies on implicit bias and explored the current and future use of these instructions throughout the country. Although further research is needed to understand the full extent of the effects of implicit bias jury instructions in a courtroom, current studies indicate positive results in reducing juror biases. These results could significantly impact the criminal justice system by ensuring a fairer trial for all defendants.