July 29, 2010

Race salience and juries: It’s complicated

Samuel R. Sommers of Tufts University is one of the leading experts on "race salience," or the study of under what conditions defendant race influences white jurors. In the decade since he and colleague Phoebe Ellsworth first published on this topic, their research has garnered widespread interest both among researchers and in the courts. In the current issue of The Jury Expert, he clarifies some misconceptions about the theory, including:
  • Misconception #1: "Race salient" means simply informing mock jurors of the defendant's race.
  • Misconception #2: White juror bias cannot occur when racial issues are salient at trial.
  • Misconception #3: Salient racial issues at trial always lead to White juror leniency.
  • Misconception #4: All race-salience manipulations have equal impact.
Related blog posts:
Other interesting articles in this issue of The Jury Expert:
Of related interest:

Sam Sommer's excellent blog, The Science of Small Talk

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