Implicit Bias is Hard to Deal with for Judges

As judges, we sometimes think of ourselves in unhealthy ways. We may have been appointed through a careful process or been elected through a vetting with the people, but none of us were anointed.  Simply put:  We are not saints. The ABA Journal reports:

Judges are tasked with being the most impartial members of the legal profession. On Friday afternoon, more than 50 of them discussed how this isn’t so easy to do—and perhaps even impossible when it comes to implicit bias.

But working to overcome biases we don’t recognize is a job that is as necessary as it is worth doing.

“We view our job functions through the lens of our experiences, and all of us are impacted by biases and stereotypes and other cognitive functions that enable us to take shortcuts in what we do,” 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Bernice B. Donald told a gathering of judges, state and federal, from around the country. Donald was on a panel for a program by the ABA’s Judicial Division, titled “Implicit Bias and De-Biasing Strategies: A Workshop for Judges and Lawyers,” at the association’s annual meeting in San Francisco.

The audience of mostly judges heard several examples from various studies over the years: Darker skin leads to longer prison sentences, differentiating even between lighter- and darker-skinned African-Americans. Prospective jurors given facts about a fictional incident remember more aggressive details about a defendant named “Tyrone” than they do when the same scenario concerns a “William.” And when 60 lawyers were shown the same research memo from what they believed to be a third-year law student, and half were told it was by a black student while the other half were told the writer was white, they gave the black writer a 3.2 out of 5 and scored the white writer 4.1.


The complete article can be found here

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