Friday, April 21, 2006

Study on Juries Highlights Flaws in Peremptory Challenges

A study by professor Samuel R. Sommers found that a multiracial jury is more deliberative than a homogenous one. However, some prosecutors have used nonracial reasons for peremptory challenges that are actually motivated by race. Justice Stephen G. Breyer suggests that the practice of peremptory challenges be abolished altogether to ensure that someone is excluded based on evidence of prejudice or ties to a witness or defendant. Los Angeles Times, LA Times 04/20/2006 Read Article: LA Times


GumboFilé said...

I have a friend who served time and we have often had discussions of the problems with the current American criminal justice system. We have discussed the dumbing down of jurors and emotional and intellectual manipulation of same. How might criminal justice be improved?

David in Grand Coteau

Anthony Fazzio said...

Just saw your note.

I tried one murder case years ago. Improving the system is tough. Three things have shocked me as trial lawyer: First, there is no presumption of innocence. Most jurors feel, if you don’t testify, you’re guilty. Second, if the police arrest you, you’re guilty. Third, no one seems shocked by the people who were executed only to have DNA evidence that later shows they were innocent. That’s scary.

I’ve tried a lot of civil jury cases and I never try to pick a dumb jury; although, I know lawyers who like such a jury composition.

GumboFilé said...

We're conditioned by crime dramas on TV.

One idea is professional jurors, but I don't know if that would be better or worse. I'm wary of unintended consequences. We already have professional judges who have power to set aside a verdict. They too seldom exercise the prerogative.