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Pew Research has a new post up comparing the religious beliefs of Black men to those of Black women (as well as White and Hispanic men and women). We’ve written here about the roles of religion and race (and who you want on your jury when) a number of different times here. Most recently, we blogged on the religious practices of Black Americans when compared to White Americans.?

Over time, Pew has developed a scale that considers four topics (i.e., frequency of prayer, belief in God, attendance at religious services, and the importance of religion in one’s life) to assess levels of religious belief and practice as “high”, “medium”, or “low”. Scores on this scale were used to draw conclusions on the religiosity of Black men compared to other groups in the US.?

Pew’s findings may not surprise you but it is good to have data behind what we might guess at so we are more certain of our accuracy. Here is a brief summary of what the Pew report says and what you may wish to take into consideration as you consider jury selection.?

In the US, Pew tells us, men are generally less religious than women and this holds true in the Black community as well.?

Black men are less religious than Black women.?

However, Black men are more religious than White men and they are more religious than White women.?

Black men are also more religious than Hispanic men and roughly equivalent to Hispanic women.?

From a litigation advocacy perspective, if you have a sense that religious commitment would play a role in case support (or lack thereof), this Pew report can give you a good guess on which jurors (Black or White or Hispanic, and Male or Female) would be best for your case. We cannot ‘know’ who is going to be best by just looking at demographic characteristics, but when all else is equal, and religious affiliation (or lack thereof) may make a difference, this is a data based approach to making the best decisions possible.?


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A new study by economists tells us it depends on whether you yourself are male or female. To examine the question of whether own-gender juries (i.e., jurors who are the same gender as you, the defendant) vary in conviction rates, the researchers looked at “detailed administrative data on the juror selection process and trial proceedings for two large counties [Palm Beach and Hillsborough Counties] in Florida”.?

The researchers report their data included “all felony and misdemeanor trials over a two-year period, and contain detailed information on defendant characteristics as well as case characteristics”. The information gathered also included demographic information on the jurors and so the researchers were able to calculate “the expected proportion of women on each jury” based on the variations each panel reflected in terms of gender. Some of you know that Florida seats both 6 person and 12 person juries, and the researchers took that into consideration.?

Here is what they found:

Own-gender juries result in “significantly lower conviction rates on drug charges” although not on other charges [like “driving, property, or violent crime offenses”].?

Even as small an amount as 10% above the expected gender-match on your jury results in an 18% reduction in conviction on drug charges.?

Own-gender juries also reflect differences in sentencing decisions with own-gender juries issuing lower sentences. In the case of sentencing, a 10% point change in expected gender composition of the jury will result in a 13% reduction in “the likelihood of being sentenced to at least some jail time”. These shorter sentence differences remain even when juries only issue a guilty or not guilty verdict and a judge determines the sentence!?

It is important to note that because they were attempting to identify the effect of own-gender juries, the researchers “excluded cases linked to charges in which fewer than 10% of the defendants were female. The researchers explain their reasoning for excluding certain types of cases this way:?

“Consequently, we only consider cases that involve a drug, driving, property, or violent crime. In addition, we limit violent crimes to domestic crimes assaults, and robberies. This is due to the low number of female defendants in other violent crime categories, such as sexual assault and murder, which gives us very little variation in defendant gender.”?

The researchers believe that randomly drawing a higher proportion of female jurors for a male defendant can result in unfair and “significant long-run costs”. They cite literature on variations in sentencing by gender of juror, as well as the literature on fairness in conviction and sentencing based on factors other than evidence presented at trial. In addition, they mention the literature on the presence of “one black juror” making a difference in conviction rates.?

Another intriguing aspect to this study is the researchers report that over 58% of their sample was charged with “possession of drugs or drug paraphernalia without intent to distribute”. The researchers suggest that when jurors who do not agree with sentencing rules for non-violent drug offenses (which, they point out, is a significant portion of Americans), they may engage in jury nullification and find the defendant not guilty.?

Specifically, they say it this way: “jurors fairly enforce the laws with which they mostly agree, but disproportionately favor own-group defendants when deciding whether to enforce laws with which they might not agree”.?

From a litigation advocacy perspective, if you are representing defendants accused of non-violent drug offenses, all other things being equal you should consider a same-gender jury. If, on the other hand, you are prosecuting, you will want other-gender jurors to achieve your goals.?

Hoekstra, M & Street, B. 2018. The effect of own-gender juries on conviction rates. National Bureau of Economic Research.


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We have blogged a few times here on the ways conservatives and liberals differ — in fact, for a while it seemed there was new research coming out about differences between those two groups routinely. But now we have another one—narcissism apparently shows up in different ways depending on whether you are liberal or conservative.?

The researchers were looking at the relationship between social narcissism and political behaviors and values. They surveyed 750 American adults (a nationally representative sample) between October 26 and November 1, 2016. They used the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (a measure commonly used in social sciences research) and found that, overall, levels of narcissism were about the same between liberals and conservatives. But when they looked at specific aspects of narcissism—there were differences between the two groups.?

Liberals were more exhibitionistic and conservatives were more entitled.?

For example, conservatives were more likely to agree with statements like, “I insist upon getting the respect that is due to me”.

Liberals were more likely to agree with statements like, “I get upset when people don’t notice how I look when I go out in public”.?

The researchers believe this finding means that “activation of one’s sense of entitlement appears to be related to moving an individual to the right. On the other hand, activation of one’s need to display their values is related to left leaning political positions”. However, they also say that the larger takeaway is that narcissism is part of all of us.?

It is tempting to view labels (liberal, conservative, narcissist, et cetera) as entities, as if the label means the same thing to two different conservatives, or that narcissism only takes a single form. But the research points out the fallacy of that view. As a psychologist, narcissism is an interesting concept to me. It takes healthy and unhealthy forms, it can be provoked during times of stress, and it can be less visible at other times. But everyone likes to have their ego gently stroked, if done properly. And that is playing to narcissism.

What this study suggests is that if you want to appeal to the narcissism of conservative jurors, include language that discusses issues around what justice demands in recognition for work and fairness.

With liberals, they want to be admired and to be seen as admirable, so they want to be credited with striving to make the world better and want recognition for their efforts.

This is a nuanced distinction, but the focus on looking past the label and considering how it will mean different things to different people is very worthwhile.

Peter K. Hatemi Zoltán Fazekas (2018). Narcissism and Political Orientations. American Journal of Political Science,


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Pew Research Center continually puts out well-researched and well-written reports on data generated by their surveys of the American public. They have a newer report out on how generational status is related to views of racial discrimination. Pew comments on the report this way:?

“Generational differences have long been a factor in U.S. politics. These divisions are now as wide as they have been in decades, with the potential to shape politics well into the future.

From immigration and race to foreign policy and the scope of government, two younger generations, Millennials and Gen Xers, stand apart from the two older cohorts, Baby Boomers and Silents. And on many issues, Millennials continue to have a distinct – and increasingly liberal – outlook.”

Reading these reports regularly is a good way to maintain awareness of shifting attitudes of your potential jurors. Pew thinks that, if Millennials and GenXers vote, they will influence politics “well into the future”. For some of us, this report will be reassuring and for others it will not.?

The report itself is full of information on the many issues American generations disagree on with younger Americans more supportive of immigration, more liberal, less religiously affiliated, more likely to be Democrat by self-report, more likely to prefer “bigger” government, more supportive of universal healthcare, and more supportive of social services for the needy. Yet, they are no more likely to be trusting of the government than other generations.?

If you choose juries, appear in court for trials, or need to keep up on changing norms—this report is a must-read piece.?

The Generation Gap in American Politics: Wide and growing divides in views of racial discrimination. Pew Research. March 1, 2018. ?

Image from report itself

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We’ve all seen this finding before: men who communicate their ideas forcefully are seen as assertive and as having leadership qualities. Women who communicate their ideas forcefully are judged more harshly and negatively. What about hate speech on social media? Are women judged more harshly than men there??

Please. You really have to ask? Of course women are judged more harshly for hate speech on social media!?

And it doesn’t matter if you are a woman speaking hate or speaking what is called “counter [hate] speech” You are going to get blasted either way. This new article was published in the journal Sex Roles and is available open access here. The researchers asked male and female participants to read hate speech attributed to male and female authors and to identify which comments they would individually ‘flag’ to alert the moderators of an inappropriate comment in the online arena.?

Here is what the authors say about what participants in the research did when they encountered hate speech said to be written by women:

In the specific case of comments [women wrote that were] directed against women and sexual minorities, hate comments by female authors are perceived as an act of double deviance [since women are expected to be kind] and are therefore sanctioned more strictly than such hate comments by men.?

The researchers also found that women were equally critical of other women as were men (which we see often during litigation and in pretrial research—with women sometimes being even more critical of other women).?

And, as you might expect, when the researchers asked participants in their study what hate speech comments they would ‘flag’ to alert the moderators—both men and women would flag women’s hateful comments at a higher rate than they would flag similar hateful comments by men.?

However, both sexes equally judged hate comments by women and men differently resulting in a backlash effect against women indicated by higher scores of flagging a comment made by a woman than flagging a comment made by a man.?

As the authors review their findings they comment that gender shapes morality. They explain that conclusion by saying that women are more concerned about fairness and avoiding harm to others than men are (at least in online forums where both genders flag offensive comments). Deviant and agentic online behavior by women is judged more strictly than such behavior by men (and judged more strictly by both men and woman).?

The authors conclude with this intriguing comment that we would all do well to remember:?

Gender not only shapes people’s morality but, and even more relevant to our study, pre-determines what is seen as socially deviant and what is not. Regardless of the gender of the one evaluating the comment, intentions to flag hate speech and counter-speech comments increase if the commenter is a woman.

We work to identify bias and stereotypes wherever we can and it is always a part of litigation advocacy. From a litigation advocacy perspective, this study teaches an invaluable lesson:

Sometimes, it is easy to fail to recall that for women, racial or ethnic minorities, members of the LGBTQ community, and all others who are “different” for one reason or another—just being who they are elicits automatic bias and differential treatment.?

The task for the litigation advocate is to figure out how to make the out-group member more understood, and mitigate that automatic bias.?

Gendered Morality and Backlash Effects in Online Discussions: An Experimental Study on How Users Respond to Hate Speech Comments Against Women and Sexual Minorities by Claudia Wilhelm and Sven Joeckel in Sex Roles. Published May 7 2018.


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