Race, political empowerment, and minority perceptions of judicial fairness

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Objective. Recent studies of the impact of black elite electoral success on the system-supporting attitudes of black citizens have yielded mixed, but generally unimpressive, empirical results. We extend this limited research by examining the effects of the presence of black judicial officials on public attitudes toward a state judicial system. Methods. We employ data from a telephone survey of citizens in Mississippi and develop multivariate models to test for the effects of black judges on citizens' evaluations of the fairness of judges, equity in sentences, and overall impartiality of the state judicial system. Results. We find no systematic evidence that the election of black judicial officials ameliorates the suspicions of the black public regarding the fairness of the state courts. Conclusions. Our findings are in line with other recent studies on the limited effects of black elite electoral success on the attitudes of the black public and generally support a "political reality" model of political trust rather than an "empowerment model."

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)444-462
Number of pages19
JournalSocial Science Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


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