The Processing of Homicides in the Courts: An Examination of Multiple Case Outcomes

Jesenia M. Pizarro, Kristen M. Zgoba, Laura M. Salerno, Giovanni Circo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

The current study employs focal concerns theory to address the role that race/ethnicity plays on various court dispositions of homicide offenders in Newark, NJ, a location where the majority of residents are African American and Latino. Two research questions are examined: (1) Does ethnicity play an important role in the decision to dismiss a case against a homicide offender, convict via a plea deal, convict via trial, acquit via trial, and sentence length? and (2) Which legal and extralegal factors play a role in these decision points during the processing of homicide offenders? The findings suggest that when there is little ethnic variation of defendants, victims, and the citizenry, other extralegal variables take precedence in informing the focal concerns of court actors. The results also suggest that different legal and extralegal variables affect the odds of distinct court outcomes. Implications for theory and future research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)400-423
Number of pages24
JournalRace and Justice
Volume10
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020

Keywords

  • focal concerns
  • homicides
  • plea-bargaining
  • pretrial process
  • race and courts
  • race and sentencing
  • victimization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law

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