Ethnicity of defendants and jurors as influences on jury decisions.

Perez, D. A., Hosch, H. M., Ponder, B., & Trejo, G. C. (1993). Ethnicity of defendants and jurors as influences on jury decisions. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 23, 1249-1262.

To assess the influence of ethnicity on jury decisions, 480 subjects viewed a videotaped trial of an Anglo or Hispanic defendant. Anglo or Hispanic majority 6-person juries deliberated until a unanimous verdict was reached. The juries that convicted the defendant were asked to determine sentence length and to provide a probation/ parole recommendation. Anglo majority juries convicted the defendant significantly more (M= 79%) than did the Hispanic majority juries (M= 52%), x2= 5.45, p < 0.02. No main effect of defendant ethnicity was obtained, but there was an interaction between the defendant and the jury's ethnicity, x2= 5.41, p < 0.02. Anglo majority juries were more lenient with the Anglo defendant, but the Hispanic majority juries did not differ in their conviction rates. No significant effects were obtained for sentence length. Differences in probation/parole recommendations were a function of jury ethnicity, F(l, 15) = 4.74, p < 0.05. Anglos were more likely to recommend that the defendant serve the full term of the sentence. These results are interpreted in terms of stereotyping and are discussed regarding their implications for a defendant's constitutional right to a fair trial. No main effect of defendant ethnicity on conviction rate but interacted with jury race composition. White-majority juries convicted more often than Hispanic-majority juries and were much more likely to convict Hispanic defendant than White defendant. Hispanic-majority juries exhibited tendency to convict White defendant more than Hispanic defendant.