Do judges change their rulings on motions to suppress depending not on the law but on the biasing effects of how terrible the crime is and how pivotal the evidence will prove to be? Do juror biases affect how they analyze legal concepts such as the “substantial step” element of attempt?
The answer to each question may be “yes,” as research supports such a conclusion. And merely seeing this problem is sufficiently eye-opening to make practitioners consider new methods of presenting legal argument or concepts and for judges to ensure fair determinations of trial issues.
Professor Sood quickly and carefully admits the limitations of the methodologies used to study these phenomena; but that acknowledgment in no way detracts from the importance of being aware of the risk of such biasing and the need for lawyers and judges to weigh this and consider using research-informed approaches to correct for bias. If nothing else, the article raises critical questions, questions that lawyers should mull over before coming near the courtroom.