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Judges may be guilty of unconscious bias

| Nov 6, 2019 | Criminal Defense

Many people in Virginia and throughout America are influenced by unconscious biases. In other words, they make decisions or form opinions on issues based on information processed in their subconscious. Research has indicated that judges tend to make decisions as much on feel as they do on the facts in a case. This may result in harsher sentences being handed down to black or LGBTQ defendants.

In a case in Boston, roughly three dozen people were taken into custody after participating in protests against right-wing marchers in a straight pride parade. Although the prosecutor requested that the charges be dropped, the judge in the case declined to do so. Generally speaking, judges will trust the decisions that prosecutors make in such scenarios. It is possible that the judge overseeing the case involving these protesters was acting on an unconscious bias against members of the LGBTQ community.

A Massachusetts Supreme Court judge later ruled that the judge in this matter didn’t have the authority to overrule the prosecutor. However, it is still unclear what prompted the original ruling to be made in the first place. Employers in both the public and private sector are being urged to review their policies to reduce the chances that bias won’t come into play when decisions are made.

Someone who has been charged with a felony or misdemeanor crime is not necessarily guilty. Furthermore, they are entitled to legal representation. A defense attorney might be able to help ensure that officers, prosecutors or others are called out if they act in a biased manner during a legal proceeding. Legal counsel could also play a role in choosing a jury that is capable of making an objective decision in a case based on the evidence provided.