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Americans doubt fairness of civil courts, admit bias against corporations

Perhaps a lack of faith in the justice system comes from knowing they themselves would be biased as jurors

Justice is supposed to be blind, and while the venerable Lady is often depicted with a cloth covering her eyes to show her objectivity, a troubling new study suggests Americans aren’t buying it.

Langer Research Associates of New York conducted a poll for the Defense Research Institute (DRI), surveying a random, scientific sample of adults across the nation. The study found that many Americans are doubtful about the fairness of civil courts—41 percent, to be exact. Only 9 percent of respondents were “very confident” that civil courts are “just and fair,” and 83 percent said whichever side gives more money to its lawyers typically wins.

Perhaps the reason respondents didn’t perceive courts as fair is because they admit that they would be biased jurors. In a dispute between a corporation and an individual, 54 percent of those surveyed said they would favor the individual. Respondents showed a particular bias against insurance, oil and financial companies, while technology and automobile companies were viewed somewhat less harshly. If they had a bad consumer experience with a company in the past, 52 percent said that would influence their decision.

Surprising no one, politics does come into play. An average 68 percent of Democrats and liberals said they would favor an individual over a corporation, while only 43 percent of Republicans and conservatives said they would.

Read more results from the study at DRI’s website.


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