Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Implicit Bias

The CNMI Bar Association has announced that Judge Mark W. Bennett will present a CLE presentation on implicit bias in jury selection at our Thursday bar meeting. The Bar Association also circulated his article, Unraveling the Gordian Knot of Implicit Bias in Jury Selection: the Problems of Judge-Dominated Voir Dire, the Failed Promise of Batson, and Proposed Solutions, published in Harvard Law and Policy Review in February 2010.

I think most lawyers are aware of implicit bias--by themselves and their colleagues, from judges, clients, witnesses, and jurors. It's somewhat a human phenomenon to engage in racial, gender, language, and other stereotyping, even when we fight against it.

The article mentions the IAT, an online "test" to help measure your hidden tendencies. The Implicit Association Test may hold surprises for you, if you dare take it. It seems very simplistic in its premises, but I think it can be used as a personal tool for exploring one's own potential for implicit biases.

The most positive note in the article by Judge Bennett is the power of professionalism and training to reduce and eliminate the implicit-preference tendencies. This effect was seen in both emergency room professionals and police. As Judge Bennett mentions, it is imperative that we achieve similar results in the justice system/judiciary.

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