Many U.S. states have long been criticized for the lack of diversity on the bench and in prosecutor’s offices. There are few women or people of color represented in the judiciary branch in Arizona and most other states, which may result in negative outcomes for individuals who stand before predominantly white judges.
Does racial background influence verdicts?
Activists claim that a prosecutor’s or trial judge’s background influences their opinion when prosecuting or presiding over a trial involving defendants of color. This prejudice can lead to verdicts that may not deliver real justice for the accused.
Factors that contribute to the problem
Only 5% of attorneys in the United States are Black. This imbalance between the Black percentage of the population, 13%, and the number of lawyers can be attributed partially to the law school admissions process where students of similar LSAT scores still favor white candidates. Even when Black students are admitted, more of them drop out during law school than their white counterparts.
What can be done to resolve this problem?
More people of color need to enter the legal profession and rise to the ranks of prosecutors and trial judges. Unfortunately, this is a very long-term solution. In the short term, communities that are predominantly people of color can encourage those already in the legal profession to run for these publicly elected positions. They can also put pressure on those who have the ability to appoint prosecutors and judges to make sure that people of color are fairly represented in the courtroom.
Individuals who have been accused of a crime and are worried about racial bias in the courtroom may want to consult an attorney. An experienced criminal defense attorney may be cognizant of racial bias and tailor their arguments to mitigate its impact.