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The Role of Age in Jury Selection and Trial Outcomes

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This paper uses data from more than 700 felony trials in Florida to examine the role of age in jury selection and trial outcomes. The results imply that prosecutors are more likely to use their peremptory challenges to exclude younger members of the jury pool, while defense attorneys exclude older potential jurors. To examine the causal impact of age, we employ a research design that isolates the effect of the random variation in the age composition of the pool of eligible jurors called for jury duty. Consistent with the jury selection patterns, the empirical evidence implies that older jurors are significantly more likely to convict. Results are robust to controls for county, time, and judge fixed effects. Thus, many cases are decided differently for reasons that are completely independent of the nature of the evidence in the case—that is, there is substantial randomness in the application of criminal justice.

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