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Jury Nullification

Explain whether ethnicity influences courtroom proceedings and judicial practices. Summarize the arguments for and against ethnicity-based jury nullification. Include contemporary examples of ethnicity-based jury nullification. Conclude by choosing a position for or against ethnicity-based jury nullification and defend your decision.

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Explain whether ethnicity influences courtroom proceedings and judicial practices.

According to a report by the state of Washington, the answer seems to be no. For those convicted in trafficking drugs, offenders are almost always charged with the most serious (in the case of multiple charges). Usually, in order to facilitate a plea, the charges will be reduced. Whether or not the defendant pleads guilty at the trial is one of the most important elements in sentencing.

Circumstances of the arrest are just as important. The variable is whether the trafficker was arrested in the course of a sting or stake-out operation. These are usually more serious charges. Charges will not be reduced in the case of an undercover operation, since intent is so blatantly clear. The report states:

"The findings of greatest importance to this study are those regarding the effects of race and ethnicity. Controlling for the arresting offense, and other legal and non-legal factors, we have found no significant differences between white, African American and Hispanic defendants in the seriousness of the initial charge filed, or in the filing of deadly-weapon and school-zone enhancements. While race and ethnic differences do appear in the initial filing of multiple counts, there are no differences in the likelihood of conviction on multiple counts" (64).

The report on minorities and the courts sponsored by the University of Nebraska says that racial bias in the court system is a matter of perception not fact. The author states that concerns differ among groups. Blacks are most worried about representation on the bench, Hispanics worried about interpreter services, and Indians worried about jurisdictional issues. She concludes that perception of the courts has to with prior experience in the courts and not group membership per se.

William Wilbanks puts the matter to rest in 1987 Myth of the Racist Criminal Justice System. He argues in several different ways. First, there is a correlation between crime and the belief that you will not be treated fairly by the system. This is self-perpetuation. Media bias creates racial disturbances. For example, in 1980, white policemen killed a black biker in Florida, the media reported over and again that the prosecution's case was a lock. They lost, and a riot ensued. As it turns out, Florida media had no evidence whatsoever that the prosecution had a strong case, and created their reports for the exclusive purpose of creating racial tension and sensationalization.

Secondly, he argues that all races commit crimes of race, yet, even blacks are often willing to give whites a break more than other blacks. Many decision makers in the justice system have a tendency to favor blacks over whites. There is no overall reason to hold that, in terms of courtroom procedure, one race is privileged over another. He argues in addition that proving one way or another is extremely ...

Solution Summary

The expert explains whether ethnicity influences courtroom proceedings and judicial practices.Ethnicity-based jury nullification are determined.