Preventing racial bias during the trial process

Those accused of a crime in Texas may be interested in a new paper that was published in the Seattle Journal for Social Justice. The topic of the paper was racial bias and how it affects those on trial. Experts say that taking steps in the courtroom can help reduce social stereotypes.

Reducing bias in the courtroom must begin before a trial ever occurs. During pretrial motions, evidence that an officer used bias as a reason for a search or a detainment should be introduced and not suppressed. Expert witnesses should be carefully interviewed to ensure that they do not present any bias in their findings.

During the jury selection, those chosen for the jury mustn’t hold racial stereotypes. Asking potential jurors to tell a personal story about race can help lawyers approach the topic in a nonthreatening manner. In addition, defense lawyers should tell a narrative about the person they are defending during the trial. This helps present the accused as an individual. Additionally, juries should be instructed by the judge to dismiss previously held biases and stereotypes. Instructions for judges to address the jury regarding race can be requested by either lawyer.

The United States justice system asks those on a jury to only convict an individual of a crime if they believe the individual is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Unfortunately, racial bias and stereotypes often taint a juror’s opinion. This may make it difficult for someone to receive a fair trial by their peers. A criminal defense lawyer might be able to help by taking steps before and during the trial to prevent racial bias from occurring. For example, a lawyer may be able to ensure that a fair number of races are represented by the jury and that the jury is carefully instructed to not allow racial stereotypes to influence their decisions.