Discrimination and racial bias have no place in the United States of America; the Constitution affirms this idea. However, the majority of Americans understand that achieving equal rights has been a hard-fought battle.
Many Americans tend to attach discrimination to the southern states, which were once home to slaveholders. The truth is that people in any state can harbor biases towards a demographic. Even today, in the 21st Century, ethnic minorities continue to fight for the rights afforded to any citizen of this nation, from the workplace to the courtroom.
In the year 2020, we are still addressing disparity concerns across the country. Last month, we wrote about a study on jury selection conducted by UC Berkeley Law’s Death Penalty Clinic. Their research found that racial discrimination is happening in California courtrooms when prosecutors and defense attorneys select jury pools—those citizens who are charged with deciding the innocence or guilt of a defendant.
As we pointed out in our previous post, both prosecutors and attorneys are afforded the right to excuse a potential juror without reason during jury selection. The process wouldn’t come to anyone’s attention in a racially homogenous community. However, the majority of cities in California are diverse; they consist of a multitude of ethnicities.
Jury Selection Discrimination
Researchers found that California prosecutors excuse African-American jurors in nearly 75 percent and Latinx jurors in about 28 percent of cases. However, white jurors were struck in only 0.4 percent of cases. The findings pushed lawmakers to act and put forward Assembly Bill 3070. The legislation states:
This bill would prohibit a party from using a peremptory challenge to remove a prospective juror on the basis of the prospective juror’s race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, or religious affiliation. The bill would allow a party to object to the use of a peremptory challenge to raise the issue of improper bias based on these criteria.
This month, the Supreme Court of California named the members of a newly created Jury Selection Work Group. Over the next year or so, the group will research:
- Jury Selection
- Diversity in California Jury Pools
- Unconscious Bias
“The right to trial by a jury of our peers is central to our justice system, and we must continue to safeguard that right,” said Justice Kathleen O’Leary, the work group chair. “We join a broad statewide and national dialogue that is focused on ensuring juries fairly represent the communities they serve.”
Orange County Criminal Defense Lawyer
Attorney Ronald Brower can help you or a loved one achieve a favorable legal outcome in California. Please reach out to our office today to learn how we can advocate for your family during these challenging times.