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Determinants and Consequences of Jury Racial Diversity: Empirical Findings, Implications, and Directions for Future Research


*Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Samuel R. Sommers, Tufts University [e-mail:].


One of the ideals underlying any jury system is that those groups of citizens charged with the responsibility of deciding cases should be representative of the communities from which they are selected. Anecdotal and empirical data suggest that reality often falls short of this ideal, however, as many empanelled juries are less diverse than community demographics would dictate. This article reviews the obstacles that stand in the way of jury diversity and typically, by association, jury representativeness. These range from system-related problems regarding jury source lists and summonses to more psychological considerations such as the pervasive, yet difficult-to-identify impact of race on attorneys' jury selection judgments. Drawing on psychological theory and findings, the implications of the failure to empanel diverse juries are also examined, both in terms of laypeople's attitudes toward the legal system as well as the actual decision-making performance of juries. Policy changes intended to promote diverse, representative juries are considered, as are specific directions for future research.