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Word Count: 2,220
According to the Supreme Court of Canada it is essential for members of a jury to be impartial and representative individuals that are responsible for applying evidence in a court case to reach a verdict However characteristics of jurors eg group identification race attractiveness and stereotypes can lead to bias verdicts These racial bias effects on jurors verdicts are known as extralegal biases factors that are irrelevant in deciding if defendants are guilty or innocent and sentencing length of a criminal offence For example Mitchell Haw Pfeifer and Meissner 2005 conducted a meta-analyses of several experimental studies to investigate racial bias on juror verdict decisions between Black and Caucasian participants They included moderating variables such as physical attractiveness socioeconomic status gender and type of crime and found that there was a small but significant racial bias in jurors verdicts and sentencing decisions when defendants was an out-group for the participant They also found that Black were more inclined to racial bias in verdicts when presented with a Caucasian defendant than Caucasian participants were when presented with a Black defendant Mitchell et al 2005 Further studies has assessed an important concept that is group identification theory that states people tend to classify themselves and others with various social categories such as organizational membership religious affiliation race gender and age cohort Ashforth Mael 1999 p 20 Research shows that this theory has demonstrated itself in practice in hate crimes where Caucasian participants with low group identification found defendants more likely to be punished when the victim of the case was Caucasian than if they were African American Blake Jean 2002 Another mock trial conducted by Brewer Hupfeld 2004 examined the interaction between testimonial consistencies witnesses ethnicity and how this impacted the mock jurors verdicts depending on their level of group identity based on ethnic groups with the witness The study found that guilty verdicts were rare when testimony was inconsistent and racial bias did
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