A Fair and Impartial Jury? The Role of Age in Jury Selection and Trial Outcomes

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2012-02-01

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Abstract

This paper uses data from over 700 felony trials in Sarasota and Lake Counties in Florida from 2000-2010 to examine the role of age in jury selection and trial outcomes. The results of the analysis imply that prosecutors are more likely to use their peremptory challenges to exclude younger members of the jury pool, while defense attorneys exclude older potential jurors. Having established that age has an important role in jury selection, the paper employs a research design that isolates the effect of the random variation in the age composition of the pool of eligible jurors called for jury duty to examine the causal impact of age on trial outcomes. Consistent with the jury selection patterns, the empirical evidence implies that older jurors are indeed more likely to convict. These results are robust to the inclusion of a broad set of controls for the racial and gender composition of the jury and a series of county, time, and judge fixed effects; almost identical effects are estimated separately for each county. These findings have implications for the role that the institution of peremptory challenges has on a defendant’s right to a fair trial and to an eligible citizen’s rights to serve on a jury.

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Scholars@Duke

Bayer

Patrick Bayer

Gilhuly Family Distinguished Professor in Economics

Bayer's research focuses on wide range of subjects including racial inequality and segregation, social interactions, housing markets, education, and criminal justice. His most recent work has been published in the Quarterly Journal of Economics, American Economic Review, Econometrica, and the Review of Financial Studies. He is currently working on projects that examine jury representation and its consequences, the intergenerational consequences of residential and school segregation, neighborhood tipping, gentrification, the effect of police and criminal justice interactions on families, and the impact of bail reform.


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