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

    4 Scopus citations


    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
    Issue number4
    StatePublished - Oct 1 2020


    • 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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