Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Supreme Court to review racial bias in jury selection

On November 2 the U.S. Supreme Court will hear whether allowing lawyers to peremptorily dismiss potential jurors has simply become a way to discriminate, according to The Washington Post.
It has been almost three decades since the Supreme Court in a case called Batson v. Kentucky ruled that it was unconstitutional to strike jurors because of their race.
But almost no one thinks the problem has been eliminated. Prosecutors and defense attorneys need only find a benign reason for dismissal: a failure to maintain eye contact and an age too close to the defendant’s were among those accepted in the Georgia case.
Studies and experience have concluded that only the most incompetent lawyer will fail to come up with a justification that a judge can accept.
“Among those who laud its mission, it seems that the only people not disappointed in Batson are those who never expected it to work in the first place,” wrote Michigan State University law professors Catherine M. Grosso and Barbara O’Brien in a 2012 study of racial bias in jury selection in North Carolina.
If anything, lawyers might have more reason to rely on racial stereotypes today in choosing a jury than they did when Batson was decided.

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