chapter  6
28 Pages

The effect of gender in the courtroom

ByBlake M. McKimmie, Barbara M. Masser

In a perfect legal system, determinations of guilt or not should be made purely on the basis of the facts of the case. However, a substantial body of research has identified a number of extra-legal factors that might be influential in the courtroom. These include, but are not limited to, pre-trial publicity (Ogloff and Vidmar 1994) and the attractiveness, age, gender and ethnicity of the various people involved in the case (see, for examples, Bodenhausen 1990; Dean et al. 2000; Gerdes et al. 1988; Haegerich and Bottoms 2000; McKimmie et al. 2004). Such factors are not legally relevant to the determination of guilt and, as such, there is a desire to reduce their impact as they arguably serve to undermine the fairness of any trial or hearing (but see Franklin and Fearn 2008). While extra-legal factors in general have been the subject of much research attention, and the influence of many individual factors is well documented, in this chapter we focus specifically on the influence of gender in the courtroom.