Equal Justice Initiative Publishes Recommendations to Make Juries More Representative

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Equal Justice Initiative Publishes Recommendations to Make Juries More Representative

The Equal Justice Initiative this week released “Race and the Jury – Illegal Discrimination in Jury Selection.” This skillfully written report, featuring stunning and historic photographs, recounts the history of racial discrimination in jury selection, as well as makes concrete recommendations to policy makers and court actors for removing procedural barriers to achieve representative juries.  These include:

  • Retroactively applying the Batson doctrine to cases decided before Batson
  • Using more inclusive and accurate summoning lists
  • Providing greater accountability for racially discriminatory jury selection by creating civil remedies against violators
  • Authorizing appellate courts to review Batson violation claims de novo

Legislator Proposes to Increase Juror Stipends to $100 per Day – Privately Funded

California Assembly Member Phil Ting introduced Bill No. AB1452 to create a pilot project in 2022 to improve the pay for low-income jurors from $15 to $100.  The program is called “Be the Jury” and would be funded by philanthropic groups.  The San Francisco Chronicle reports (subscription required) the bill is aimed at improving racial and economic diversity in juries.  The Chronicle references data showing approximately 3,800 low-income San Francisco residents were excused from jury service due to financial hardship in 2018 and 2019.

40,000 Citizens Petition New York DA to Review Murder Conviction Based on Prosecutorial Misconduct

Courts may not be the sole source for reversing a jury verdict.  The Queens Chronicle describes how New York citizens have mustered an effort to convince Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz to dig into the conduct of Brad Leventhal the trial prosecutor in State v. Chanel Lewis.  Coincidentally, Leventhal resigned after his misconduct led to a verdict reversal in another case.

Polling Shows Judicial Support for Implicit Bias Instructions to Juries

The National Judicial College asked judges whether they believe judicial education can help rid the courts of implicit bias.  Two-thirds of the 489 respondents said yes.

After Court Staffer Tests Positive for COVID, All Court Employees Must Test for Infection

5 On Your Side in St. Louis reports all employees who interact with jurors at the Carnahan Courthouse must be vaccinated against COVID-19.  A recent order from Presiding Judge Michael Stelzer would apply to judges, clerks, members of the sheriff's department, IT staff, members of the Jury Supervisor's Office, and court reporters.  The new policy was prompted after a sheriff’s deputy overseeing a jury selection last week tested positive for COVID.