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Bias in the Courtroom: Judicial Decision-Making Process

Judicial Decision-Making should involve various views in order to avoid individuals’ preferences influencing their biases. Judges and jurors should consider various views and allow the voices of everyone in the room be heard without allowing power positions to rank higher than those without power or authority. No one voice should be more prominent than the other. Often, our biases implicitly and explicitly influence human beings to have preferences for particular ideologies and political stances. This is one reason why policies are in place to ensure inclusion. Although policies and laws are in place to include input from those participating in jury duty, policy does not completely eliminate personal biases. Yet, policy excludes felons from serving as a juror based upon the assumption that convicted felons will be against the prosecution and for the defense regardless of the information presented to them.

Although, all human beings have biases. Some biases are implicit and others are explicit. Implicit biases are unconscious attributions of particular qualities attributed to a member or a group of people. Explicit biases are on the conscious level and are considered to be beliefs and attitudes individuals have about a person or a group of people. If all people have biases, then that means judges also have biases. This is important because their role in the courtroom is to instruct, decide, and sentence. Judges are held in high regard because of their roles. However, there may need to be training that is required for judges to attend yearly to improve their ability to suspend their personal backgrounds, professional and life experiences, partisan and ideological loyalties in order to render justice. Jurors should also be considered decision-makers of the court because their roles include assessing the credibility and reliability of the evidence they are presented, deliberation, and decision-making. The juror selection process is in place to average out the biases. However, attorneys and the judge can remove a potential juror who does not support his or her case. So, if bias is inherent and can be unconscious, should there be a reason to exclude convicted felons from serving in a jury? There has been research that has indicated that convicted felons and law students have the same level of bias in terms of being prodefense or anti-prosecution. That means that civilians and convicted felons are both biased to the same degree. In conclusion, judges and jurors are responsible for deciding the outcomes of cases. Requiring annual multicultural training may increase understanding of how biases influence perceived information. This understanding may, in turn, assist in what should be a bias-free decision-making process.

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