Achieving an Impartial Jury: Removing Bias in Voir Dire and Deliberations

Project Description

The ideal of an impartial jury is enshrined in the American ethos and is critical to the legitimacy of our system of justice. However, achieving this ideal has remained elusive. Emerging research, particularly in the social sciences, enables us to better measure bias and understand the role that unconscious or implicit bias plays in our courtrooms.

The ABA Criminal Justice Section, with co-sponsorship from other ABA entities embarked on a project that offers a methodical, research-based approach to increasing impartiality among jurors, attorneys, and judges. 

The “Achieving an Impartial Jury: Addressing Bias in Voir Dire and Deliberations” Project created a Tool Box of user-friendly options for education and debiasing techniques.

Expert Advisory Group

  1. Benny Agosto, Jr., Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Friend, Houston, TX
  2. Dr. David Amodio, Professor of Psychology and Neural Science, NYU
  3. Nicole M. Austin-Hillery, Director and Counsel, Washington Office Brennan Center for Justice, Washington, DC
  4. Hon. Mark W. Bennett, Judge, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Iowa
  5. Dr. Nilanjana Dasgupta, Professor of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA
  6. Sharon Davies, Professor of Law and Director of the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
  7. Michael Dean, Attorney, Wayne County Public Defender, Indiana
  8. Dr. Patricia Devine, Professor of Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI
  9. Dr. Shari Seidman Diamond, Howard J. Trienens Professor of Law and Professor of Psychology, Northwestern School of Law, Chicago, IL
  10. Hon. Bernice B. Donald, Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, Memphis, TN
  11. Hon. William Dressel, President, The National Judicial College, Reno, NV
  12. Allison Elgart, Legal Director, Equal Justice Society, San Francisco, CA
  13. Fred Friedman, Chief Public Defender; Associate Professor University of Minnesota, Duluth, MN
  14. Kim Greely, Attorney, Honolulu, HI
  15. Basheera James, Cook County States Attorney, IL
  16. Justin Levinson, Director, Culture and Jury Project; Deputy Director, Institute of Asian-Pacific Business Law, University of Hawaii Law School, Honolulu, HI
  17. Dr. Shawn Marsh, Chief Program Officer, Juvenile Law, National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, Reno, NV
  18. Wayne McKenzie, General Counsel, New York City Department of Probation, New York, NY
  19. Seth Miller Executive Director, Innocence Project of Florida, Tallahassee, FL
  20. Kelly Mitchell, Executive Director, Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission, St. Paul, MN
  21. Hon. Costa Pleicones, Justice, South Carolina Supreme Court, Columbia, SC
  22. Sarah Redfield, Professor of Law Emerita, University of New Hampshire School of Law, York, ME
  23. Lauren Stiller Rikleen, President of Rikleen Institute for Strategic Leadership and Executive-in-Residence, Boston College Center for Work & Family, Boston, MA
  24. Artika Tyner, Director of Diversity, Clinical Faculty, University of St. Thomas School of Law, Minneapolis, MN         

ABA Staff Advisory Group

  1. Peter Koelling, Director, ABA Justice Center
  2. Rachel Patrick, Director, ABA Coalition on Racial and Ethnic Justice; Center for Racial and Ethnic Diversity
  3. Robin Rone, Director, ABA Council for Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Educational Pipeline; Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
  4. Daniel Serrano, Director, ABA Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession
  5. Sarah Turberville, Director, ABA Death Penalty Moratorium Implementation Project


Tool Box of user-friendly options for education and debiasing techniques

Achieving an Impartial Jury Project featured in CNN Article “Race, bias and the Zimmerman jury” By Richard Gabriel

List of Relevant Resources on Voir Dire

If you are interested in other areas of race and diversity, visit our Racial Equity in the Justice System and check out the CJS Racial Justice Improvement Project

Project News

Project news on the Criminal Justice Section Newsletter, Spring 2013

ABA Cosponsors

The ABA Section of Litigation,  The ABA Coalition on Racial and Ethnic Justice, The ABA Council for Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Educational Pipeline, The ABA Center for Racial and Ethnic Diversity, the ABA Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession, The ABA Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities, The ABA Commission on Women in the Profession, The ABA Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity SOGI, The ABA Commission on Disability Rights.