Demographic Roulette: What Was Once a Bad Idea Has Gotten Worse, by Douglas L. Keene, Ph.D. and Rita R. Handrich, Ph.D. from Keene Trial Consulting, The Jury Expert Blog
‘Beware of the Lutherans, especially the Scandinavians; they are almost always sure to convict. Either a Lutheran or Scandinavian is unsafe, but if both in one, plead your client guilty and go down the docket. He learns about sinning and punishing from the preacher, and dares not doubt. A person who disobeys must be sent to hell; he has God’s word for that.’ (Clarence Darrow, 1936)
Almost eighty years following Clarence Darrow’s distillation of how religion shapes jury behavior, the belief that demographics could be the holy grail for the selection of jurors persists. It is routine for our clients to comment, in the midst of a mock juror deliberation, “Well, it looks like older women are good for us!” and for the associates to quickly add this to their notes for use in the upcoming voir dire. The lingering hope that demographics could predict a juror’s eventual vote represents a pesky and persistent belief. Too bad it’s hardly ever true. . . .