Hidden Racial Bias in a Polarized World: Discussing Race and Innocence with Jurors

During this session participants will experience trial techniques designed to reduce the impact of implicit racial bias on jurors. The presenters will explore research on how hidden bias and binary thinking has a direct effect on criminal litigation, resulting in the wrongful conviction of innocent defendants of color. Following a review of the research, the presenters will facilitate a dialogue among participants on how implicit bias can be confronted in voir dire. Participants will take part in a simulated jury selection and will be encouraged to explore their own hidden belief system. By conducting a mock jury selection with participants, the presenters will demonstrate how an open and honest discussion with jurors, who present with diverse identities, will reduce the impact of implicit racial bias on criminal verdicts. The use of these techniques will be encouraged in retrials, and considered in post-conviction relief, where race played a role in the original wrongful conviction.