Tuesday, March 19, 2013


Your favorite Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorney was surprised by the results of new study establishing that overweight women are less likely to receive a fair trial than others. Thin male jurors were the most likely to be biased against overweight women, while women and overweight men were least biased.

The study from Yale University found that bias to obese women was shown by male jurors against overweight women, especially when the men were thin as detailed in this excerpt from the full weight bias study:

Male participants judged the obese female defendant as significantly guiltier than the lean female defendant.
Degas' ballerinas are beautiful but not thin, would male jurors in Tampa Bay be biased because the ballerina's are overweight?
Degas, Ballerina,1875
Additionally, the lean male participants believed the obese female defendant was more aware of having criminal intent as compared with the lean female defendant. They also viewed her as more likely commit a crime in the future as compared with the lean female defendant. Differences between ratings of the obese female defendant and the lean female defendant were only observed among male participants; female respondents judged the two female defendants equally regardless of body weight.

Until this study I believed that the most significant threat to fair trials in America was biased information spread thru cellphone technology, but latent bias within the criminal justice system based on a Defendant's personal characteristics undermines the very notion that justice can ever be fair. 
If male jurors are biased isn't it likely that male judges may also be biased in sentencing, that male probation officers may be more likely to violate and male prosecutors more likely to ask for harsher sentences when dealing with overweight female defendants? Are  men more judgmental of heavy weight women because they view being overweight as a sign of weakness and lack of control? Do these men believe that somehow women have some duty to make themselves appealing to them?

Clearly Tampa Bay criminal defense lawyers must make certain that everyone involved in the criminal justice system be unbiased and fair by probing for potential bias expressed verbally or nonverbally not only while picking potential jurors during voir dire but through the entire process. 

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