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Forecasting Life and Death: Juror Race, Religion, and Attitude Toward the Death Penalty
Cornell Law Faculty Publications
  • Theodore Eisenberg, Cornell Law School
  • Stephen P. Garvey, Cornell Law School
  • Martin T Wells, Cornell University
Document Type
Publication Date
  • Juror attitudes,
  • Death penalty,
  • Capital sentencing,
  • Capital punishment,
  • Capital Jury Project,
  • CJP,
  • Future dangerousness,
  • Simmons v. South Carolina
Determining whether race, sex, or other juror characteristics influence how capital case jurors vote is difficult. Jurors tend to vote for death in more egregious cases and for life in less egregious cases no matter what their own characteristics. And a juror's personal characteristics may get lost in the process of deliberation because the final verdict reflects the jury's will, not the individual juror's. Controlling for the facts likely to influence a juror's verdict helps to isolate the influence of a juror's personal characteristics. Examining each juror's first sentencing vote reveals her own judgment before the majority works its will. Race, religion, and how strongly the juror believes death is the appropriate punishment for murder influence a capital juror's first vote, which usually determines the final vote. Because black jurors are rarely a majority of the jury's members, majority rule usually means white rule.
Publication Citation
Published in: Journal of Legal Studies, vol. 30, no. 2 (June 2001).
Citation Information
Theodore Eisenberg, Stephen P. Garvey and Martin T Wells. "Forecasting Life and Death: Juror Race, Religion, and Attitude Toward the Death Penalty" (2001)
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