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Racial Quotas in Jury Selection

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In Taylor v. Louisiana (1975), the Supreme Court constitutionalized what had been up to that point a policy decision made by some courts and legislatures, including Congress, that juries should be drawn from a cross-section of the community. Taken to its logical extreme, this would require racial quotas for jury venires, with the jury commissioner taking affirmative action to meet the quota of minority jurors if neutral selection policies did not naturally produce the supposedly needed numbers. But we don't take it to that extreme, do we?

This AP story from Georgia reports that a murder defendant wants his trial postponed until after the next census to get the benefit of altered county demographics. The story says (emphasis added),

Jury pools in Clayton County, like many other jurisdictions, are drawn from voter registration lists, driver's license data and utility records. The list is then balanced by gender and race using the Census.
Now, every citizen has a duty to serve if summoned, but one ought not be burdened with this duty more often than others by reason of one's race. That would be the effect if people who belong to groups with a higher percentage of ineligibles or no-shows are oversampled to make up the difference.  If the cross-section rule really required that, it would collide head-on with the Equal Protection Clause. In the event of such a collision, equal protection should win. For one thing, it really is in the Constitution, unlike Taylor's complete fabrication.

1 Comment

I am not sure, but this odd result, which, by the way, may be a problem (IIRC, in the Yankel Rosenbaum case, a conviction was jeopardized or tossed because the judge skewed the jury to be racially balanced) is dictated by a Ga. Supreme Court decision. In any event, the census doesn't necessarily break down demographics by citizenship.

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