How much does luck matter to a criminal defendant in a jury trial? We use rich data on jury selection to causally estimate how parties who are randomly assigned a less favorable jury (as proxied by whether their attorneys exhaust their peremptory strikes) fare at trial. Our novel identification strategy uniquely captures variation in juror predisposition using data unobserved by the econometrician but observed by attorneys. Criminal defendants who lose the “jury lottery” are more likely to be convicted than similarly-situated counterparts, with a significant increase (18-20 percentage points) for Black defendants. Our results are robust to alternate specifications and raise questions about race and the use of peremptory strikes in the criminal justice system.
Scholarly Commons Citation
Kostyshak, Scott and Sukhatme, Neel U., "Down to the Last Strike: The Effect of the Jury Lottery on Criminal Convictions" (2019). Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works. 2156.