Gender Discrimination in Jury Selection
The purpose of this literature review is to see how gender affects the jury selection process. How often does an attorney excuse a juror because of their gender? How long has gender discrimination been a part of the legal process and do women or men experience sexism more because of their gender (Choo,2018). I predict that women have experienced gender bias more often than men in jury choice, however, the emphasis of this review seeks information and evidence that gender discrimination occurs in the courtroom. The rejection of a juror because of their gender aims to eliminate their opinion that pertains to their decision making in verdicts. On account of these gender issues, there should be more research on jurors that were dismissed. (York, 2006)
In 1995 the OJ Simpson trial increased awareness by shining a light on the fact that a jury or juror plays an enormous role in the legal system. The realization that tedious work goes into selecting jurors, explains that vulnerabilities could arise that favor fixed attributes of juror candidates. (Davis, 2015) For example, Richard Gabriel contributed his abilities including decoding what could potentially blind a juror into making a certain decision, identify a bias an individual juror possesses, and interpret how the juror would comprehend information presented in the trial. Thus, the expert analysis supplied by a consultant like Gabriel could aid in the victory of a trial. (Cornwell, 2011) Subsequently, I have found more research involving disbarment of women dating back to the establishment of trial by jury. The prominent men in government, as well as men in society, believed women should tend to the home rather than contribute opinions in the legal process. Conversely, the proposal to exclude women would diminish the essence of democracy (Forman, 1992). Trial by jury meant the opinion of various peers would promote fairness as well as represent the people to ensure a discussion made by diverse critical thinking.
Gender discrimination in jury-selection is widespread among many courtrooms. Regarding gender prejudice in elimination, the Equal Protection Clause within the Fourteenth Amendment aimed to put a stop to this issue in the future. Although women were the first victims of gender discrimination in jury selection, researchers have presented evidence that males experience exclusion from certain juror duty opportunities as well (Deverman,1995). Additionally, researchers provide a study that illustrated that American courtrooms are not alone in the battle of gender bias found in legal matters. For example, this study design conducted by a researcher explains the correlation between various countries barring women during the 20th-century, including restrictions on jury sanctions (Choo,2018) researchers said obstacles were prevalent in the 1970s including a few cases in the 1990s. The countries under restricting gender discriminations in the courtroom included: Ireland, Canada, U.S., New Zealand, and Australia. Adversely, women in Britain could act as a juror in their legal system. In hopes of finding answers to the question of why some countries allowed women on a jury could, in fact, be linked to early traditions within individual countries. The limitations of early study designs that focus on gender bias in jury selection were that most of the researchers solely focused on women being excluded. That was because women were not allowed to vote back then much less serve as a juror.
For this study, I think it is essential to first describe the case of J.E.B vs. Alabama. The ruling in this case made by the Supreme Court was to put a stop to gender discrimination in jury selection. (Hightower, 2000) However, doubt lingered if J.E.B. would have an impact on the issue or if judges would neglect to follow it. Pursuing this further, a researcher conducted analysis on J.E.B. vs. Alabama desiring answers to see if J.E.B was effective in cases held after the law was put into place. (Hightower, 2000) Results included 127 legal cases involving claims of gender discrimination in jury selection. One-third of the cases confirmed gender bias. The researcher clarified this through her research revealing that men were often excluded from jury duty the most in criminal trials. Shockingly, the judge allowed four cases even when the attorney admitted there was gender discrimination involved in their decision to dismiss certain jurors. As revealed by this study appealing verdicts because of gender bias in jury selection is a possibility if the judge neglects to follow laws in place to fight against the issue.
It is general knowledge that women and men have differences physically, emotionally, and biologically. Furthermore, would it be wise to say those differences affect either gender to make critical decisions in the jury deliberation process? (Breheney, 2007). In the context of insanity defense trials, the researchers effectively describe how women and men view defendants pleading not guilty to the crimes committed. Women believe that a person could need clinical help to aid in mental illness more than their male counterparts. In contrast, men will convict a defendant because they do not think mental illness could be a factor as to why the crime was committed. This evidence suggests that emotions as well as preconceived ideas of the mentally ill play a vital role in jury decision making. Conversely, because those emotions are innate it shows that the gender of a juror in insanity trials need more jury instructions as well as the direction in dealing with a general bias towards the mentally ill.
The act of jury duty is important, and people should remember that they are not playing God (Castaneda, 2005). Admittedly, judgment by peers provokes feelings of fear because no one truly knows or understands how an individual juror makes certain decisions. However, comfort is given when a defendant sees a jury that is diverse. Diversity of juries will make deliberation extensive because of different viewpoints and new knowledge from each person could promote new ways of thinking. (IIes, 2011) Even though gender discrimination in jury selection has the possibility of taking place, it should not stop a citizen to perform their civic duty. Juries are an integral part of what keeps democracy fair and allow an outlet for opinions of people that will be acknowledged.
Although many researchers studied if gender discrimination is present in jury selection little research investigated if the dismissed jurors thought they were removed for gender reasons or other factors. Majority of the researchers did not present studies that involved questioning dismissed jurors. Recent information in this area would provide more understanding as well as pinpoint how to prevent the issue in the future.
This study explored gender discrimination in jury choice. The mock trial consisted of child abuse charges with a male defendant. Random selection of 50 college students was asked to attend a mock jury duty study. A total of 22 students made an appearance. Those participants were told there would be questionnaires given to access which of the participants would be chosen for the final mock jury that included 12 jurors. The questionnaire consisted of items that would provoke ideas on the gender of the defendant who was accused 1 (strongly disagree) to 10 (strongly agree). Also, after giving information of the mock child abuse case, the questionnaire had items seeking if each participant thought the defendant was guilty or not guilty: 1 (strongly disagree) to 10 (strongly agree). After choosing 12 participants, the remaining 10 that were dismissed were given a questionnaire to see if they believed they were dismissed from mock jury duty because of their gender 1(strongly disagree) to 10(strongly agree). I predicted that females were more often excluded from jury selection. I predicted that the legal system is vulnerable to gender discrimination in jury selection.
- Breheney, C. G. (2007). Gender matters in the insanity defense. Law and Psychology Review, 31, 93+.
- Castaneda, J. (2005). The jury’s dilemma: playing God in the search for justice: solving the problems lurking in America’s courtrooms. Defense Counsel Journal, 72(4), 387+.
- Choo, A. L.-T. (2018). Gender discrimination and juries in the 20th century: Judging women judging men. The International Journal of Evidence & Proof 192-217, doi:10.1177/1365712718782990.
- Cornwell, E. &. (2011). Representation through Participation: A Multilevel Analysis of Jury Deliberations. Law & Society Review.
- Davis, M. &. (2015). Pretrial pros: jury consultants are changing with the times 20 years after the O.J. verdict. ABA Journal, 101(1), 31+.
- Deverman, B. (1995). Fourteenth Amendment – equal protection: the Supreme Court’s prohibition of gender-based peremptory challenges. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 85(4), 1028-1
- Forman, D. (1992). What Difference Does It Make – Gender and Jury Selection. UCLA Women’s Law Journal.
- Hightower, S. (2000). Sex and the peremptory strike: an empirical analysis. Stanford Law Review, 52(4), 895.
- Iles, H. E. (2011, September 27). Doing Justice: Perceptions of Gender Neutrality in the Jury Selection Process. Retrieved from Southern Criminal Justice Association: DOI 10.1007/s12103-011-9139-x
- York, E. &. (2006). Status on Trial: Social Characteristics and Influence in the Jury Room. Social Forces. 85(1), 455-477.