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Representative juries are essential to reliable, fair, and accurate trials. As the Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized, an “[e]qual opportunity to participate in the fair administration of justice is fundamental to our democratic system.” Yet, Black people and people of color are significantly underrepresented in many of the jury pools from which jurors are selected or are removed from juries unfairly. The absence of representative juries leads to significant negative consequences: outcomes that are less reliable, injury to those excluded due to racial discrimination, and the undermining of the integrity of the entire criminal legal system. This Briefing will discuss the history and causes of underrepresentation and racial bias in jury selection and will identify strategies for confronting racial bias and eliminating illegal racial discrimination in jury selection.
Angie Setzer is a Senior Staff Attorney with the Equal Justice Initiative, an organization committed to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States, to challenging racial and economic injustice, and to protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society. In 2021 EJI published its important report: Race and the Jury: Illegal Discrimination in Jury Selection.
Topics and Briefing objectives will include the following:
• Review the background of discrimination in jury selection (10 minutes)
• Understand the importance of representative juries (10 minutes)
• Analyze how juries are selected and the exclusion of Black people and people of color at every step of the process (20 minutes)
• Explore recommendations for eliminating racial bias in jury selection (20 minutes)
- Commit to fully representative jury pools
- Remove procedural barriers to reviewing claims of racial bias
- Create accountability
- Reform the use of peremptory strikes
- Create a meaningful presumption of discrimination
- Other actions to eliminate illegal discrimination