The Danger of Unfair Prejudice: Racial Disparities in the Federal Rules of Evidence

In the Summer of 2020, America saw a racial reckoning in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. Racial disparities in our justice system have always been present but entered the cultural zeitgeist as Americans took to the streets to protest the disparate treatment of people of color by law enforcement. This Article suggests that the racial gap can be bridged through the American court system itself and examines the Federal Rules of Evidence as a starting point. First, the author examines the promulgation of the Federal Rules of Evidence, focusing on the history and circumstances surrounding their inception. Next, the author identifies and discusses racial disparities in specific Federal Rules of Evidence that illustrate how, in many instances, the Rules themselves are the cause of what they originally sought to eliminate. Finally, the author provides a practical solution that utilizes Rule 403 to combat the implicit racial bias found in the Rules and reduce the correlation between race and how much justice an individual receives.