Are male jurors biased to overweight female jurors? According to a recent study by the Yale Rudd Center the answer may be yes.
In a recent experiment close to five hundred subjects were asked to weigh in on a mock check fraud case. They were asked to look at the elements of the crime, and then they were shown picture of the defendant. The subjects were shown a picture of a fat man, an obese woman, a skinny man and a skinny woman. They were then asked to assess a level of guilt on a scale of 0-5.
The men in the experiment believed the obese woman was more guilty than the skinny woman, while women in the study were more even handed and had asses the same level of guilty to each picture. The weight of the men did not affect the decision by both the male and female subjects.
The study suggests that the many stereotypes as fat people being lazy and greedy are factors that man use in judging a person. Especially if the crime fits in the sphere of the stereotype the bias is even more rampant.
The creator of the study stated she had done the survey to prove that there is discrimination against fat people and steps need to be taken to protect from this bias.
Lawyers can learn from this study and ask prospective jurors about this before seating the juror. Lawyers may also ask the judge for a special instruction to address this issue. Lawyers can take steps to avoid this situation but they must be aware of the many nuances of juries.
Massachusetts Criminal Attorney Patrick Donovan is a Massachusetts Trial Attorney that handles criminal and personal injury cases throughout Massachusetts. Attorney Donovan has appeared in over fifty courts and has been lead counsel on both felony and misdemeanor crimes. Attorney Donovan is a former Assistant District Attorney in Norfolk County.