The ABA reports on a recent Texas Tech study demonstrating that Texas civil juries were more likely to give Spanish speaking plaintiffs smaller monetary awards.
After compiling 17 years of data from his own practice, Dallas lawyer Angel Reyes had a hunch that Spanish-speaking plaintiffs who required the use of a translator in the courtroom received smaller awards than those who did not.
Last fall Reyes and two professors from Texas Tech University’s Rawls College of Business confirmed his suspicion: Spanish speakers who relied on a translator during court testimony were 15 percent less likely to obtain a jury verdict that exceeded their last settlement offer than were English speakers.
Their study, which will be published in the Social Science Quarterly, analyzed 223 civil jury verdicts from 16 counties in Texas, which Reyes contends is an accurate microcosm of the country. The researchers looked at different variables, including gender, time of year of the verdict and whether the courtroom was in a rural or metropolitan area, says co-author Bradley T. Ewing, a professor of operations management at the Lubbock, Texas-based university. “None of those factors really stood out.”
Other studies have examined the distrust non-English speakers have of the justice system, but before this no one has quantified the economic reality of possible juror bias, Ewing says.