Race and Jurors' Receptivity to Mitigation in Capital Cases: The Effect of Jurors', Defendants', and Victims' Race in Combination

Abstract

This paper examines the variation in receptivity to mitigation evidence by capital jurors as it varies by the race of the juror, defendant, and victim individually and in combination. Attitudinal and racial characteristics from 865 respondents in the Capital Jury Project were used in the analysis. Using a generalized form of multiple regression, the respondent's receptivity to mitigation evidence was predicted and changes in receptivity were calculated as the race of the main trial participants (juror, defendant, and victim) were varied. Statistical controls were put in place for gender of respondent; respondent's perception of the dangerousness of the defendant, heinousness of the crime, and view of the defense attorney; respondent's formation of a premature sentencing decision; and whether the trial took place in a southern state jurisdiction. Results indicate that Black jurors in cases where a Black is charged with killing a White victim are chiefly responsible for the observed variance in receptivity to mitigation.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

REFERENCES

  1. Baldus, D. C., & Woodworth, G. G. (1998). Race discrimination and the death penalty: An empirical overview. In J. R. Acker, R. M. Bohm, & C. S. Lanier (Eds.), America's experiment with capital punishment: Reflections on the past, present and future of the ultimate penal sanction (pp. 385–415). Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Baldus, D. C., Woodworth, G. G., & Pulaski, C. A. (1990). Equal justice and the death penalty: A legal and empirical analysis. Boston: Northeastern University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Baldus, D. C., Woodworth, G. G., Zuckerman, D., Weiner, N. A., & Broffitt, B. (2001). The use of peremptory challenges in capital murder trials: A legal and empirical analysis. University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law, 3, 3–170.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Banner, S. (2002). The death penalty: An American history. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Bowers, W. J. (1974). Executions in America. Lexington, MA: Lexington Books.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Bowers, W. J. (1995). The Capital Jury Project: Rationale, design, and preview of early findings. Indiana Law Journal, 70, 1043–1102.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Bowers, W. J., & Pierce, G. L. (1980). Arbitrariness and discrimination under post-Furman capital statutes. Crime and Delinquency, 26, 563–635.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Bowers, W. J., Sandys, M. R., & Steiner, B. D. (1998). Juror predispositions: Guilttrial experience, and premature decision making. Cornell Law Review, 83, 1476–1556.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Bowers, W. J., Steiner, B. D., & Sandys, M. R. (2001). Death sentencing in Black and White: An empirical analysis of the role of jurors' race and jury racial composition. The University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law, 3, 171–274.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Brewer, M. B. (1999). The psychology of prejudice: Ingroup love or outgroup hate? Journal of Social Issues, 55, 429–444.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Brewer, M. B. (2000). Reducing prejudice through cross-categorization: Effects of multiple social identities. In S. Oskamp(Ed.), Reducing prejudice and discrimination (pp. 165–184). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Brewer, T. W. (2003). Don't kill my friend: The attorney-client relationship in capital cases and its effect on jury receptivity to mitigation evidence. Dissertation Abstracts International, 64(2), 631 (Doctoral Dissertation, University at Albany, State University of New York, 2003). (UMINo. 3080086)

    Google Scholar 

  13. Coke, T. E. (1994). Lady justice may be blind, but is she a soul sister? Race-neutrality and the ideal of representative juries. New York University Law Review, 69, 327–386.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Doyle, J. M. (1996). Representation and capital punishment: The lawyers' art: "Representation" in capital cases. Yale Journal of Law and the Humanities, 8, 417–449.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Eddings v. Oklahoma, 455 U.S. 104 (1982).

  16. Fitzgerald, R., & Ellsworth, P. C. (1984). Due process vs. crime control: Death qualification and jury attitudes. Law and Human Behavior, 8, 31.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238 (1972).

  18. Haney, C. (1997). Violence and the capital jury: Mechanisms of moral disengagement and the impulse to condemn to death. Stanford Law Review, 49, 1447–1486.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Hewstone, M., Rubin, M., & Willis, H. (2002). Intergroup bias. Annual Review of Psychology, 53, 575–604.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Hoffman, M. L. (1984). Interaction of affect and cognition in empathy. In C. E. Izard, J. Kagan, & R. B. Zajonc (Eds.), Emotions, cognition, and behavior (pp. 103–131). New York: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Insko, C. A., Schopler, J., Hoyle, R., Dardis, G., & Graetz, K. (1990). Individual-group discontinuity as a function of fear and greed. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 58, 68–79.

    Google Scholar 

  22. Insko, C.A., Schopler, J., & Sedikides, C. (1998). Personal control, entitativity, and evolution. In C. Sedikides, J. Schopler, & C. A. Insko (Eds.), Intergroup cognition and intergroup behavior (pp. 109–120). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Izard, C. E. (1971). The fact of emotion. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Krieger, L. H. (1995). The content of our categories: A cognitive bias approach to discrimination and equal employment opportunity. Stanford Law Review, 47, 1161–1248.

    Google Scholar 

  25. Lockett v. Ohio, 438 U.S. 586 (1978).

  26. Long, J. S. (1997). Regression models for categorical and limited dependant variables. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  27. Lynch, M., & Haney, C. (2000). Discrimination and instructional comprehension: Guided discretion, racial bias, and the death penalty. Law and Human Behavior, 24, 337–358.

    Google Scholar 

  28. Mackie, D. M., & Smith, E. R. (1998). Intergroup relations: Insights from a theoretically integrative approach. Psychological Review, 105, 499–529.

    Google Scholar 

  29. Morgan v. Illinois, 504 U.S. 719 (1992).

  30. Olsen-Fulero, L., & Fulero, S. M. (1997). Commonsense Rape Judgments: An empathy-complexity theory of rape juror story making. Psychology, Public Policy and Law, 3, 402–420.

    Google Scholar 

  31. Perlin, M. L. (1996). Professionalism, mental disability, and the death penalty: "The executioner's face is always well-hidden": The role of counsel and the courts in determining who dies. New York University Law School Law Review, 41, 201–236.

    Google Scholar 

  32. Radelet, M., & Vandiver, M. (1986). Race and capital punishment: An overview of the issues. Crime and Social Justice, 25, 94–113.

    Google Scholar 

  33. Sandys, M. (1998). Stacking the deck for guilt and death: The failure of death qualification to ensure impartiality. In J. R. Acker, R. M. Bohm, & C. S. Lanier (Eds.), America's experiment with capital punishment: Reflections on the past, present and future of the ultimate penal sanction (pp. 285–307). Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press.

    Google Scholar 

  34. Schacter, S., & Singer, J. E. (1962). Cognitive, social and physiological determinants of emotional state. Psychological Review, 69, 379–399.

    Google Scholar 

  35. Smith, E. R. (1993). Social identity and social emotions: Towards new conceptualizations of prejudice. In D. M. Mackie & D. L. Hamilton (Eds.), Affect, cognition, and stereotyping (pp. 297–315). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

    Google Scholar 

  36. StataCorp. (2003a). Stata statistical software: Release 8.0. College Station, TX: Stata Corporation.

    Google Scholar 

  37. StataCorp. (2003b). User's guide: Release 8.0. College Station, TX: Stata Corporation.

    Google Scholar 

  38. Stephan, W. G., & Stephan, C. W. (2000). An integrated threat theory of prejudice. In S. Oskamp (Ed.), Reducing prejudice and discrimination (pp. 23–46). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

    Google Scholar 

  39. Strauder v. West Virginia, 100 U.S. 303 (1880).

  40. Turner v. Murray, 476 U.S. 28 (1986).

  41. United States Census Bureau. (2000a). Statistical abstract of the United States. Retrieved July 22, 2003, from http://www.census.gov/prod/www/statistical-abstract-us.html

  42. United States Census Bureau. (2000b). Census Summary File 1, Matrix P8, from http://factfinder. census.gov

  43. United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics. (2002a). Criminal victimization 2001: Changes 2000-01 with trends 1993-2001 (Bulletin NCJ 194610). Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics.

    Google Scholar 

  44. United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics. (2002b). Prisoners in 2001 (Bulletin NCJ 195189). Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics.

    Google Scholar 

  45. United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics. (2003). Homicide trends in the U.S. Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office.

    Google Scholar 

  46. United States Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2000). Crime in the United States, 2000. Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office.

    Google Scholar 

  47. United States General Accounting Office. (1990). Death penalty sentencing: Resource indicates pattern of racial disparities. Washington, DC: U.S. General Accounting Office.

    Google Scholar 

  48. White, W. (1993). Effective assistance of counsel in capital cases: The evolving standard of care. University of Illinois Law Review, 1993, 323–378.

  49. Wilder, D., & Simon, A. F. (2001). Affect as a cause of intergroup bias. In R. Brown & S. L. Gaertner (Eds.), Blackwell handbook of social psychology: intergroup processes (pp. 157–172). Maiden, MA: Blackwell.

    Google Scholar 

  50. Woodson v. North Carolina, 428 U.S. 280 (1976).

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

About this article

Cite this article

Brewer, T.W. Race and Jurors' Receptivity to Mitigation in Capital Cases: The Effect of Jurors', Defendants', and Victims' Race in Combination. Law Hum Behav 28, 529–545 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1023/B:LAHU.0000046432.41928.2b

Download citation

  • capital punishment
  • race
  • empathy
  • juries