Department or Program



The United States Constitution and the American legal system which has stemmed from it specify the roles of judges, prosecutors, jurors, and other actors within the criminal justice system. These roles, although they include a certain amount of discretion, prohibit their occupants from taking justice “into their own hands” by unilaterally deciding whether the law ought to apply in a given case. These constraints on the roles within the criminal justice system are justified by the broader democratic, egalitarian political system within which they exist. However, given the increasing body of evidence which suggests that, far from being egalitarian, the criminal justice system is heavily influenced by various types of bias, including racial bias, the constraints on individuals’ roles within the criminal justice system must be critically reexamined. This thesis, by way of performing such a reexamination, defends the position that to the extent that racial bias is likely to affect the outcome of a given criminal case, the individual actors within the system who deal with that case (specifically, the judges and prosecutors), have the moral right and, in some cases, the moral duty to promote the most substantively just outcome, even if doing so would require stepping outside the boundaries of their defined roles. Despite the moral importance of remaining faithful to the boundaries of one’s role, I argue that in some cases, stepping outside the boundaries of one’s role may actually better serve the purposes of that role than would remaining faithful to the role’s boundaries.

Level of Access

Open Access

First Advisor

Cummiskey, David

Date of Graduation


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages


Open Access

Available to all.