Jury Racial Diversity – Sample Paper

Racial and ethnic minority defendants are disgusted by the thought that an all-white jury would try them. However, in reality white police officers usually arrest them. An all-white jury then indicts them. All-white district attorneys prosecute them upon which an all-white jury convicts them in most instances. An all white state appellate court then denies then an appeal and white federal judges convict them. In so doing, the criminal proceedings exhibit impressions of racial inequality, which is prevalent in the criminal justice system. This makes race a critical emblem for racial and ethnic minorities. It helps in determining the fairness of the trial, legitimacy of the verdict and the integrity of the criminal justice system. This necessitates state legislature to ensure that there is representation of racial and ethnic minorities in juries (Daudistel et al., 1999).

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According to marginalized segments of the community, it is wrong for an all-white jury to convict a black defendant or acquit a white defendant if the plaintiff is black. Having an all-white jury ‘racializes’ of the jury proceedings. This practice can be traced back to activities in the South after the Civil War. Ku Klux Klan committee various atrocities against blacks. They undertook massive lynching of blacks, which went unpunished by all-white juries. The white lynching mobs were never tried in courts in the South. This is despite the fact that the killer may have been known. In the contemporary American criminal justice system, minorities are rarely included in juries. Lack of participation of minorities makes it difficult for juries to provide a widely accepted verdict in trials that involve highly sensitive elements of racism (Liptak, 2007).

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Various elements of federal law have led to the underrepresentation of racial minorities. The federal law requires courts to use registration of voters (ROV) list when selecting jurors. This is despite the fact that the list under-represents racial minorities. Certain courts use an additional list such as driver motor vehicle (DMV) records. However, this has not helped in solving the problem of underrepresentation since infrequent updates and technical difficulties when removing duplicate names in the records have led to underrepresentation of racial minorities. This is because white potential jurors are usually found in both the DMV and ROV records. Various computer scanning programs do not usually eliminate or merge duplicate names. This increases the chance of selecting an all-white jury. Various jury requirements, which include residency requirement and lack of a previous conviction, have also led to the elimination of poor and racial minorities (Diamond & Rose, 2005).

In addition, the fact that jury summons and qualification questions are conducted via mail leads to the exclusion of racial minorities. This is due to the fact that geographically mobile racial minorities and the poor do not usually receive the documents. Lack of a systematic follow-up procedure leads to further exclusion of racial and ethnic minorities. It is a fact that certain racial minorities receive these documents. However, their mistrust of a white-dominated court and criminal justice system makes them fail to respond to the documents, leading to their exclusion from the jury selection. In addition, economically disenfranchised racial minorities lack the willingness to appear in courts as jurors. This is because jurors receive very little pay. For example in most court in California, jurors receive a mere $15 dollars per day. This is not enough to cover the daily expenses of the jurors. Abuse of authoritative challenges also leads to the exclusion of racial minorities in jury selection. This practice is usually predominant in cases involving racial minority defendants (Walker, Spohn & DeLone, 2011).

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Various parties may oppose jury racial diversity. They may highlight the fact that racial minorities are usually unwilling to participate in juries. Therefore, it is wrong for courts to entice people who do not want to be engaged in the criminal justice process to act as jurors. Enticing them may be costly to the taxpayer as it may necessitate courts to provide monetary incentives. This leads to discrimination of other jurors. In addition, the process of looking for jurors from racial minority groups may be a long process since they are reluctant to engage in jury duty. This may lead to a delay in sentencing the individual. And as the old saying goes, ‘justice delayed is justice denied. Racial minorities are usually from poor backgrounds. Therefore, they may be uncomfortable in cases involving huge sums of money. This may make them provide wrong verdicts when voting. Defense attorneys usually use this strategy in their voir dire to influence the jurors (Walker, Spohn & DeLone, 2011).

It is wrong for a jury in a case involving racial majorities to be composed of mainly racial minorities. This is due to the fact that the jury would be biased. A certain number of seats should be set aside for racial minorities. This would ensure that there is fairness and equal representation in the criminal justice system. Various research have shown that the racial composition of juries affect the verdict. Therefore, it would be wrong for the criminal justice system to overlook this fact.

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