Confronting Racial Bias in Jury Selection

Representative juries are essential to reliable, fair, and accurate trials. As the Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized, an “[e]qual opportunity to participate in the fair administration of justice is fundamental to our democratic system.” Yet, in too many communities, Black people and people of color are significantly underrepresented in the jury pools from which jurors are selected or are removed from juries unfairly.

Unrepresentative juries not only marginalize and exclude communities of color, but produce wrongful convictions and unfair sentences that disproportionately burden Black people and people of color. This presentation will discuss the importance of representative juries, examine our country’s history of racial bias in jury selection and identify strategies for confronting racial bias and eliminating illegal racial discrimination in jury selection.

  • Introduction
    • Background and Overview of EJI's Work
    • Introductory Video

  • History of Discrimination
    • Emergence of Mythology That Black People Are Inferior to Justify Enslavement
    • Progress Towards Racial Equality During Reconstitution
    • End of Reconstruction and How the United States Supreme Court Undermined Progress Towards Racial Equality
    • White Resistance to Racial Equality
    • Segregation in America and Subsequent Intervention by the Supreme Court to Address Race Discrimination in Jury Selection
    • Presumption of Guilt

  • Why Representative Juries Matter
    • Opportunity for Community Perspective to Impact Case
    • Indispensable to Fair and Accurate Trials
    • Instill Confidence in the Legal System

  • Black People and People of Color Are Still Excluded at Every Step of Jury Selection Process
    • Creation of Jury Pools
    • Juror Qualification
    • Removal of Jurors "for Cause"
    • Peremptory strikes

  • Recommendations for Eliminating Racial Bias in Jury System
    • Commit to Fully Representative Juries
    • Remove Procedural Barriers to Reviewing Claims of Racial Bials
    • Create Accountability
    • Reform the Use of Peremptory Strikes

Topics covered include: DEI Ethics
Duration of this webinar: 60 minutes
Originally broadcast: April 03, 2024 10:00 AM PT
Continuing Legal Education (CLE) Credits

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California CLE

Status: Approved

Credits: 1.0 Implicit Bias

Earn Credit Until: April 02, 2026

South Carolina CLE

Status: Approved

Credits: 1.0 General

Difficulty: All Levels

Earn Credit Until: December 31, 2024

North Carolina CLE

Status: Approved

Credits: 1.0 Ethics

Earn Credit Until: February 28, 2025

Texas CLE

Status: Approved

Credits: 1.0 Legal Ethics/Professional Responsibility

Earn Credit Until: March 31, 2025

This presentation is approved for one hour of Implicit Bias CLE credit in California, one hour of General CLE credit in South Carolina (all levels), and one hour of Ethics CLE credit in North Carolina. This course has been approved for Minimum Continuing Legal Education credit by the State Bar of Texas Committee on MCLE in the amount of 1.0 credit hours, of which 1.0 credit hours will apply to Legal Ethics/Professional Responsibility credit.

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Angie Setzer
Angie Setzer Senior Attorney
Equal Justice Initiative
Angie Setzer is a Senior Attorney at the Equal Justice Initiative where she has been representing people on death row and children prosecuted as adults for over 20 years. She coordinates EJI’s capital cases, provides expertise and training to lawyers throughout the country handling death penalty cases, and is a leading researcher and writer for reports on criminal legal issues. She joined EJI after graduating from the University of Michigan Law School in 1999.
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