Justice in black and white: Race, perceptions of fairness, and diffuse support for the judicial system in a southern state

L. Marvin Overby, Robert D. Brown, John M. Bruce, Charles E. Smith, John W. Winkle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The effective operation of the American judicial system requires the public’s confidence and support. High-profile events, most notably the Rodney King incident and O.J. Simpson trials, have called into question the confidence that black and white Americans have in the courts. Contemporary cases (e.g., Kobe Bryant and Michael Jackson) may continue the trend. While there is abundant anecdotal evidence, rigorous empirical analysis has been limited to studies of the U.S. Supreme Court. In this article, we explore black-white differences in assessments of a state judicial system. Our findings suggest that while black and white citizens agree on many matters, there are strong differences related to the overall fairness, and the impartiality of important actors, in the judicial system. That these discrepancies remain even after controlling for other important factors suggests that there are significant, racially based differences in how blacks and whites evaluate the dispensation of justice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)159-182
Number of pages24
JournalJustice System Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2004


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Law

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