Some people may get a fairer trial in Massachusetts if their potential jurors are first instructed regarding race bias and other biases based on stereotypes. An article that appeared in the Seattle Journal for Social Justice by an Arizona assistant federal public defender focused on bias against Latinos, but his strategies can be used with many other types.
One strategy an attorney might use is pretrial motions for evidence suppression if there is evidence that a police officer might be racially biased. Witnesses and the officer’s arrest record could all be used to support these allegations. An attorney could also point out that a witness identifying a person from a different race might be less reliable. Attorneys can have potential jurors talk about their experiences with race, have a judge discuss implicit race bias or have potential jurors take the Implicit Association Test. Jurors can also be instructed to resist the temptation to use stereotypes, prejudice or bias to reach a conclusion.
Another strategy attorneys may use is creating a narrative to portray the defendant as an individual instead of a stereotype. This might include describing the person’s relationship with others or using character testimony. The paper said attorneys should also be aware of any implicit bias within themselves and use objective standards to prioritize cases.
People who are facing misdemeanor or felony charges may want to contact a criminal defense attorney. In addition to the possibility of racial bias in investigating the case, an attorney might also look at a number of other factors including whether forensic evidence was handled correctly and the reliability of witnesses.