- Associated Press - Thursday, June 28, 2018

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A Nebraska judge has declined a defense attorney’s request to play jurors a video on implicit bias at an upcoming Lincoln trial for a black man accused of sexually assaulting a white woman.

Lancaster County District Judge Robert Otte rejected a motion to show jurors an 11-minute video about hidden biases they might bring into the courtroom, the Lincoln Journal Star reported. The video is shown to all prospective jurors in federal courts in Seattle and Tacoma, Washington.

Social scientists define implicit bias as unconscious personal attitudes people hold about race, gender, nationality and other characteristics.

Public Defender John Jorgensen had asked the court in May to consider playing the video. He said the jury-selection process can identify explicit bias but that implicit bias is more subtle. Jorgensen said addressing implicit bias is important in all cases, but particularly for the one to be held in August in which a black man is charged in the sexual assault of a white woman.

Deputy Lancaster County Attorney Charles Byrd had objected to Jorgensen’s motion. He said these types of issues are best confronted during the voir dire process, when attorneys question potential jurors.

“There’s no real reason to reinvent the wheel,” he said.

Otte ultimately agreed with Byrd. Jury instructions already warn jurors not to indulge speculation or allow sympathy or prejudice to influence them, he said in his decision.

Jorgensen said the defense was encouraged to hear that the court recognizes the existence of implicit bias. “However, we respectfully disagree with Judge Otte’s decision to not address biases that we all hold on race, and we remain convinced that the courts will eventually make implicit bias training a standard practice in all cases,” he said.


Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, http://www.journalstar.com

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