Are Judges solely responsible for biased judicial decisions?

by John Groseclose, Litigation Attorney

In the national debate about mandatory minimums, biased judicial decisions and whether a judge should have discretion in sentencing someone that is found guilty or pleads guilty to a crime, it is very difficult to compare what occurred.  I have been told that one of the most effective methods of activism is to tell stories.

Get the facts to the public and then the public can help campaign for change. The explosion of social media and our digital society allows a pretty good platform.


There was a great blog post I saw that compared the Stanford swimmer (white) with the Nashville athlete (African American).  One person faces 6 months and the other 15 years.  Guess which athlete faces the harshest punishment?

A lot of factors lead to a judge’s sentencing decision

Yet, is it that simple? This article examines the differences in the law in the two communities, as well as the differing actions of the prosecutors.

It is too simple to just look at what the judge does.  We all need to look at how the police investigate crimes and how prosecutors make charging decisions.  Some reports have pointed out that the judge in the Stanford case has a record of following the recommendation of the pre-sentencing reports. There are plenty of data to indicate racial bias at every level of the criminal justice process.

The end result (A sentencing) is the result of decisions made at every level. Reform and change start at the bottom of the pyramid which still needs a lot of work. And all of us have responsibility for the changes needed.