ABA Taking Action to Limit Impact of Implicit Bias in the Justice System

Implicit bias can obstruct the goal of fair, trusted, and accountable courts, and many groups have recognized how such unconscious perceptions can affect litigants, judges, and other aspects of the legal system. Recently, the American Bar Association (ABA) House of Delegates took action by adopting Resolution 116, which amended the ABA Principles for Juries and Jury Trials. In addition to adding marital status, gender identity, and gender expression as reasons that cannot be used to exclude or limit individuals from jury service, Resolution 116 also addressed implicit bias in a provision that strongly suggests all courts:

  1. Instruct the jury on the impact of implicit bias and how such bias may impact the decision making process without the juror being aware of it; and
  2. Encourage the jurors to resist making decisions based on personal likes or dislikes or gut feelings that may be based on attitudes toward race, national origin, gender, age, religious belief, income, occupation, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression

The ABA has made the elimination of bias in the justice system a top priority, and is taking steps to give our nation’s judges the tools they need to combat the effects of implicit bias on the bench. The training video below, produced by the ABA’s Diversity and Inclusion 360 Commission, highlights some of the surprising facts that new research has uncovered about implicit bias and features insights from former and current judges on how they can use that information to create a more equitable justice system.

Mark Staines is a second-year law student at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law and contributes to IAALS Online. Please direct inquiries about this post to iaals@du.edu.