Foley, L. A., & Powell, R. S. (1982). The discretion of prosecutors, judges, and juries in capital cases. Criminal Justice Review, 7, 16-22.
This study examines the impact of legal and extralegal factors on the decisions of prosecutors, juries, and judges in first degree murder cases. The cases analyzed included all the first degree murder indictments in 21 of the 67 counties in Florida from 1972 through 1978. The data indicate that each of the three decision makers studied is influenced differently by legal and extralegal factors. The prosecutors’ decisions to try cases were influenced by the sex of the defendants, types of attorneys, and the existence of accomplices. The juries and judges were influenced by the sex of the offenders. Judges were influenced also by the race of the victims despite the recommendation of juries which were not influenced by this factor. These results obtained even when a variety of legal and extralegal factors were controlled statistically.
Defendant gender, race of victim, and several case characteristics related significantly to jury
sentencing decisions. Women and defendants convicted of killing an African American less likely to receive death penalty, although latter effect only marginally significant when case characteristics controlled.