In Connecticut and around the country, racial bias can have an impact in criminal cases. Most people hold implicit biases, and defense attorneys need to talk about race to help jurors to consider cases without being impacted by the ones that they might have.
According to the American Bar Association, criminal defense lawyers who are representing minorities can take several steps to reduce implicit bias among the jurors and the judge both before and during trials. In cases in which police officers stop minorities because of racial bias, the attorneys can file pretrial motions to challenge the reasons for the stops as pretextual. They can also file pretrial motions to request the use of experts to testify about the impact that race can have on charging decisions.
During voir dire, the attorneys can talk about race by asking prospective jurors to talk about experiences that they have had with race. They can then discuss implicit bias and the impact that it can have. Attorneys can also request jury instructions about implicit bias and work to tell their clients’ stories in a positive and personal way. Taking proactive steps to talk about race and implicit bias in court might help to reduce their impact on the outcome of the case.
Unfortunately, racial bias continues to exist in the criminal justice system. People who are minorities who have been charged with crimes might want to talk to experienced criminal defense attorneys about the options that they might have. An attorney may review the evidence and the police reports to identify whether the officer might have acted out of his or her implicit bias. If the arrest appears to have been based on race, the attorney might file motions to challenge the admissibility of some or all of the evidence.