Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment & Technology Law

First Page



This article sets out to answer a basic question about celebrities in the legal system: does celebrity status influence the outcome of a trial? Part I focuses on the legal aspects surrounding the treatment of celebrities in the courtroom. For example, there is some evidence that celebrities receive preferential treatment in court, while there is other evidence that celebrities are held to higher standards than non-celebrities. Part II examines psychological theories suggesting that status and authority influence jurors' decision-making processes. In Part III, a review of relevant past psychological research provides an empirical basis to make conclusions about celebrity influence in the courtroom. Although there may be vivid accounts of celebrities being treated preferentially in the courts, the current experimental study demonstrates that celebrity defendants do not get differential treatment from non-celebrity defendants. As a result of this research, the article concludes that the legal system does not need to implement extreme legal measures (e.g., establishing special courts to protect celebrity defendants' rights) that are designed to abate the alleged presence of celebrity influence in the court.