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Unbiased Jury Selection?

  1. Dec 11, 2005 #1
    So what do you think? Should juries be stacked to fit an ethnic quota? Does the ethnicity of the individuals on the jury matter? If you think it does do you think it really ought to matter? Do you think that things like selecting a jury based on ethnicity helps or hinders the idea of equality among ethnicities?

    Though you can probbaly get an idea of how I feel about the issue from my post I am definitely not entirely decided on it. I'll clarify more later how I feel about it.
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2005
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  3. Dec 11, 2005 #2
    In any case where the ethnicity/gender/religion of the jury would influence the outcome of the case, how can we be sure that either jury was being fair and reasonable? In fact, if juries were to lightly ignore evidence and reason in favor of superificialities, would we have any actual justice at all? If this danger exists, then it follows that we are not safe from it.
  4. Dec 11, 2005 #3


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    Why would ethnicity/gender/religion matter unless the jurors are actually racist/sexist/religious freaks?

    Personally, I'm in favor of jurors only being disqualified if they have a real conflict of interest/bias.
  5. Dec 11, 2005 #4
    I think it is true that cultural differences can create a difference in the manner that a juror makes his/her decisions. The problem though is that we can't determine what difference it will make and whether or not it really will make any difference.

    I also am of the opinion that these supposed safeguards for "equality" don't really help the problem. I think that they only promote and encourage the devisive attitude they are supposed to get rid of. This artificial equality reenforces the borders between cultures making us focus on the idea that we are different from one another rather than helping us form the mentality that we aren't so different.
  6. Dec 11, 2005 #5
    That's what I was thinking.

    Can you expand on this a bit more?
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 11, 2005
  7. Dec 11, 2005 #6


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    I believe you should be tried by compeltely random people because I don't feel the idea of ethnicity stacking is logical. The whole idea is that say if you get a guy on trial who is black and there are 80% white people on the jury, he'll be convincted because of his race. Well that should also mean that white people should statistically be off the hook for a large deal of their crimes since statistically, their juries should be full of enough white people to get him off the hook. Obviously this doesn't happen as far as i know, no one claims white people never get convincted.

    Actually it's took complicated for me.. it seems like every anti-bias step you take works off the assumption of a certain bias in existance and hoping to counter it with another bias and its all too complicated :P Pff, this should all be done by a big computer lol.
  8. Dec 11, 2005 #7
    There are people who have grown up in environments that may make them more likely to decide one way or another. When OJ Simpson was tried there were people advocating that he be released regardless of guilt in order to stick it to the man. I'm sure there were also other people who took one look at him and decided he was guilty. We can more than likely pin such reactions on cultural background more than the persons abilities to make decisions regarding the evidence. Ofcourse these are due to more specific cultural distinctions than just skin colour and there is very little that can be done to keep either sort of person off the jury unless they make their opinions clear during the selection process.
  9. Dec 12, 2005 #8
    what does that have to do with a quota?

    all the law talks about is making sure that a possible juror is not excluded based on those factors.
  10. Dec 12, 2005 #9
    People weren't being excluded based on race. People were trying to "balance" the jury by making sure that it reflected the percentage of minorities, specifically blacks, in the community. The point of the decision was to prohibit jury selection based on race, or any other such criteria, "even in cases where the purpose would be to achieve balanced representation".
    If the point were to make sure that people are not excluded then I doubt the civil liberties organizations would be having an issue with the decision.
    There is an issue with the fact that only about 27% of the people who show up for Jury Duty are black while 42% of the community are black. Supposedly because of this the black community are not adequately represented among the jury pool. They are considering making sure that more jury summons reach people in black neighborhoods. My guess though is that the people in those neighborhoods are just less likely to show up for jury duty. People with lower incomes and who are more worried about job security are less likely to show for jury duty.
  11. Dec 16, 2005 #10


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    I agree that this has more to do with eliminating the ethnic composition of a jury as a valid reason for appeal than to ensuring minorities are represented on juries.

    If the purpose is to get more minorities on juries, then it becomes virtually unenforcable without radical changes to the rights lawyers currently have in jury selection - changes that would actually reduce the ability of lawyers to eliminate prospective jurors that may be pre-biased against their position.

    As to the second part of Ape's post .... If lower income people are violating the law because they are worried about job security, then the problem is ignorance, not race or income. Most states require employers to give full pay up to a certain limit for the first few days of jury duty (Colorado is up to $50 a day for the first three days, but most employers give full pay even when its above $50) After the first few days, the court pays jurists daily (in Colorado, they pay $50 a day). Under most state laws, lower income workers (or the unemployed) will be hurt less by jury duty than the middle class or upper class (of course, in practice, competition forces most employers of middle and upper class workers to cover the difference between what the state pays and what the worker would receive at work - something that probably wouldn't be true for easily replaceable minimum wage employees). No matter how long jury duty is for, an employer can't dismiss a juror for serving on jury duty.

    The lack of representation may have more to do with the percentage of a group that registers to vote. Typically, prospective jurors are randomly selected from registered voters. If you don't register to vote, you never get called for jury duty.
  12. Dec 16, 2005 #11
    Technically true but that doesn't mean that employers wont fire someone for something else because they aree angry that the employee was gone for jury duty. And it doesn't mean that a poorer individual isn't still going to be afraid they may lose their job. Poorer people are probably the ones most likely to not take action when wrongfully dismissed from a job.

    This was something else I had thought about but ofcourse I have no idea what the percentage of people who did not register in that area might be. I also don't know if in that area they may use DMV records instead of voter registration. ect. But it's definitely a likely factor.
  13. Dec 16, 2005 #12


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    However, you can't do an in-depth psychological analysis of the life&opinions of every potential juror.

    Thus, in cases where one knows that, say, the defendant (or victim!!) belongs to some group towards which there exists quite a few unreasonable prejudices, one prudent choice in minimizing the risk that these irrelevant prejudices will affect the verdict, is to include amongst the jurors someone from the prejudiced group.
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2005
  14. Dec 16, 2005 #13
    This is the one argument that makes me not sure exactly where to stand on this. My opinions in regards to just about every other aspect of this though makes me lean heavily toward thinking it is wrong to select people based on their ethnicity or other such considerations.
  15. Dec 16, 2005 #14


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    Well, as I see it, prejudices do exist, and won't disappear just if we try to ignore them.

    Thus, on occasion, it might be warranted to forestall injurious effects of these by taking some unusual measures, in particular when it might affect the outcome of some particular trial.

    I see your point, though.
  16. Dec 18, 2005 #15
    I understand this and that's why I think it's a valid reason. The problem though is that I feel focusing attention on differences rather than trying to remove attention from them only maintains the devisiveness. Now that slavery is abolished and the law and most people treat people of other ethnicities equally when do we start taking away these "safeguards" so that we can truely all be treated equally as opposed to being artificially equal?

    Then there's also the issue that when you divide people along these lines for the reason of bigotry it tends to paint a particular group as bigots. If there are people being discriminated against then there must be a group of people discriminating against them. Unfortunately for me people think I fit into that group rather well. I get accused of being racist rather regularly because I'm white and in a position of authority. The black and hispanic students here get all pissy with me when I try to do my job but when one of my co-workers who isn't white talks to them the amount who get uppity decreases incredibly.
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