Date of Award

Spring 2021

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Ellen S Cohn

Second Advisor

Michelle D Leichtman

Third Advisor

Edward J O'Brien


Less than .001% of cases involving police officers killing suspects result in trial convictions; acquittals are significantly higher for Black victims than for White victims. The purpose of this dissertation was to examine if explicit and implicit racism amongst jurors helped explain why police officers are rarely convicted of murder, especially in cases with Black victims. In a pilot study in which mock jurors read a trial summary involving an officer killing an unarmed victim who was either Black or White, jurors were more likely acquit officers on trial for killing a Black victim than a White victim. In Study 1, I developed an explicit racism scale (CRIM) addressing contemporary racism issues. The CRIM was significantly associated with direct explicit racism, indirect explicit racism, and political orientation measures. Study 2 used explicit (CRIM) and implicit (IAT) measures to predict jury behavior in a 2x2 mock jury experiment (victim race x officer race). Explicit (CRIM) but not implicit racism (IAT) predicted jury behavior. Jurors high in explicit racism were more likely to acquit police officers of murder than jurors low in explicit racism. The results from this dissertation clearly show that racism measures need to be frequently updated to address contemporary issues of racism. The CRIM was demonstrated to be a very effective measure of explicit racism (favorable to other measures) and should be included in future research examining explicit racism