Where are all the Black Jurors?

  • The "exclusion of jurors is like the exclusion of voters: the exclusion of voters by reason of race does violence to constitutional ideals, whether or not the exclusion affects the outcome of any particular election."

There are only a few ways that Americans can meaningfully exercise their citizenship; enlisting in the military, running for national office, voting and serving on a jury. Jury service is a basic right of citizenship . With the exception of voting, "for most citizens the honor and privilege of jury duty is their most significant opportunity to participate in the democratic process."   Whether "jury service be deemed a right, a privilege, or a duty, the State may no more extend it to some of its citizens and deny it to others on racial grounds than it may invidiously discriminate in the offering and withholding of the elective franchise."   A peremptory challenge is a method of removing  jurors from a jury pool. A juror may be removed for any reason; so long as it is a race or gender "neutral" reason. MANY Black jurors are excluded by challenges that are disguised as race neutral but in fact are pretext or surrogates for race. The following explanations for striking African Americans were found to be race neutral (removing the Black juror) in various State and Federal courts:

  1.  style of dress and demeanor(1),
  2. participation in church activities (2) ,
  3.  lack of education (3) ,
  4. unemployment and wearing a beard (4)
  5. residence in a high crime neighborhood and unemployment (5) ,
  6. residence in same neighborhood as defendant (6),
  7. lack of education and business experience (7),
  8. being young or being a social worker (8) ,
  9. membership in Operation PUSH (9) ,
  10. membership in the NAACP (10),
  11. affiliation with Alabama State University(11) ,
  12. having a relative that was a felon (12) ,
  13. having a criminal record,poor body language, eye contact, having incarcerated relative (13) ,
  14. being a social worker and agreeing with the O.J. Simpson verdict (14) ,
  15. having low intelligence or marginal literacy(15) ,
  16.  being unemployed, 22 years old and wearing an earring (16),
  17. living in same the neighborhood as defendant and exhibited a lack of intellectual capacity (17) . [MORE]