Strategies to reduce racial bias in criminal trials

On Behalf of | Feb 21, 2020 | Criminal Defense |

Racial biases and stereotypes may be a concern for defendants at criminal trials in New York. A paper published by a public defender describes research-backed approaches that could help defense attorneys counteract racial bias among jurors. Directly addressing the topic of race during trials has been shown in studies to mitigate the influence of jurors’ personal attitudes about racial groups.

When preparing for a trial, the voir dire stage grants attorneys a chance to learn more about jurors and how their beliefs might impact their decisions. A defense attorney might ask potential jurors about their experience with people of other races. If asked, a judge could approve the administration of the Implicit Association Test to potential jurors. The results would inform the defense attorney about people’s implicit biases.

When defendants might face prejudice from jurors, attorneys could present narratives during trials that emphasize the defendants’ relationships with family or present character witnesses. This strategy could shift jurors’ views from seeing a stereotype to seeing a human being.

Pretrial motions filed by an attorney could remove evidence from a case if a defense attorney can show that racial bias motivated police officers to act against the defendant. An expert witness might also be called upon to explain the unreliability of identifications made by witnesses of races different from the defendant’s race.

A person facing trial on criminal charges may seek legal representation. An attorney might deploy strategies meant to incite sympathy among jurors or sow doubt in their minds about the accusations made by authorities. Resources available from a criminal defense attorney might include access to experts whose testimony may help undermine the validity of information presented by the prosecution.

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