July 15, 2007

I'd be interested to hear what prosecutors and defense attorneys think of this, and especially whether or not it's true that blacks are being effectively kept off juries in the post-OJ era. Voir dire has always had the potential of being a real poison to our criminal justice system, as it squelches the possibility of having a jury of true peers empaneled at trial. Having sat through two days of jury selection earlier this year, only to be sent home at the end, I can say that a lot of the dismissals of prospective jurors were arbitrary, at least to the untrained eye, and probably did little to assure either the defendant or the People their right to a fair trial. What results isn't a fair and impartial jury, but a jury that has been gamed by the lawyers to produce an unfair result.

Those biases of prospective jurors that work in favor of or against the accused (or any party in a civil action, for that matter) are not necessarily inconsistent with getting a fair and accurate result. The random selection of twelve+ people to sit on a jury, with the exclusion only of those who are acquainted with the defendant or the witnesses, those who may have a pecuniary interest in the outcome, and those who have an avowed prejudice, should be the goal, not to have a jury that reflects some demographic ideal chosen by a jury consultant.

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