Judging the Book by More Than Its Cover:

A Symposium on Juries, Implicit Bias, and the Justice System’s Response

Download the white paper
Implicit bias and juries

Download this paper for an overview of the takeaways from the Judging the Book by More Than Its Cover symposium held in Washington, D.C., in March 2020. Additionally, you will find a summary of research on implicit bias as it pertains to jury trials, the judiciary, and the courts, as well as a brief overview of different approaches adopted by courts and judges to help address implicit bias in juries.

Download now
Cover of the white paper on implicit bias and juries
What’s inside

Photo of white marble lady justice bust with blindfold

The National Judicial College thanks the American Association for Justice Robert L. Habush Endowment for its support of this document, the course and the symposium.

Learn more about the endowment
AAJ Endowment logo
Conversations on Racial Justice

This web series asked uncomfortable questions in the pursuit of ways to rid the justice system of racism. Check out the recorded webinars and additional resources on racial fairness.

Learn more

What is implicit bias?

Implicit bias refers to the subconscious attitudes, associations, or stereotypes held about a person based on the group to which that person belongs.

Download to read more
Judges are not immune to, and are also influenced by, implicit bias.

Judging the Book by More Than Its Cover,

Page 2

Various colors of paper heads, all slightly crinkled
The Science Behind Implicit Bias

All individuals have implicit biases. They are the mental shortcuts that allowed our ancestors to survive by making split-second decisions with incomplete information. These shortcuts provide a much faster manner of assessing a situation or object, allowing for a faster reaction that could have meant life or death. Helpful or harmful, implicit biases exist in all persons.


Download to read more

Mitigating Implicit Bias

The first step to mitigate implicit bias is to recognize its existence in everyone. Critically, judges and those involved in the administration of justice are included in “everyone.” Consequently, failure to recognize the ubiquity of implicit bias could contaminate the entire legal system because when individuals think they are not subject to implicit bias, they are, ironically, more susceptible to biases.

Download now to read more
Identifying the existence of implicit bias is one thing; figuring out how to reduce or eliminate these biases is quite another

Judging the Book by More Than Its Cover,

Page 2

Scrabble tiles on a wood table spelling Implicit Bias
Where We See Implicit Bias in Jury Trials, According to Research

The U.S. Constitution guarantees citizens a fair and impartial trial. But are jurors, or judges for that matter, as impartial and free of implicit biases as we’d like to believe when they are when rendering their decisions? Unfortunately, research on the topic implies that this is not the case.

Download to read more
Black and white photo collage of people of different genders and races

Methodologies Courts Have Used to Mitigate Implicit Bias Among Jurors

While much has been studied on the existence of implicit bias, the jury is still out, so to speak, on how to mitigate these biases. Research has shown mixed findings related to the efficacy of the various ways in which courts have tried to identify and reduce, if not eliminate, implicit bias.

Methods include:

  • Educating the Jury about Implicit Bias
  • Voir Dire to Draw out Biases
  • Jury Instructions Related to Implicit Bias

Download now to read more
Research supports the idea that being persuaded that a problem exists can create the motivation to fix it.

Judging the Book by More Than Its Cover,

Page 4

Download the white paper