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Why Aren't Juries More Diverse?

One reader wonders about the composition of the Zimmerman and Dunn juries; also, find outwhat you need to know about self-publishing your own book

Charles F. Coleman Jr. and George C. Gardner III

by Charles F. Coleman Jr. and George C. Gardner III, April 08, 2014

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combination of stereotyping, emotional intelligence (gut reactions) and some lucky guessing. After several times of doing it, some attorneys are very adept at this process, although it hardly ever becomes a science.

After the challenges, both for cause and preemptive, the jurors who are left comprise your panel. If the challenges have decimated the pool that was in the box to a level that those remain are not enough to form a complete jury, the process repeats itself until the remaining number of jurors have been “selected” and the trial will begin.

A few quick things to remember:

  • There is no such thing as the “perfect” juror. A good juror for one case may be a bad fit for another case. What attorneys value most in picking jurors are smart people who have common sense, open minds, and who can follow directions.
  • Jury duty is a civic responsibility that we all must obey. Your notice will not tell you that you are being subpoenaed for the trial of the century, but failing to show up could lead to the same type of injustice that prompted this question in the first place.
  • This is not the club. Show up on time to jury duty! You can’t get picked if you are not in the pool. Sometimes “CP” time can be the death of us all.
  • If you are picked for a jury, throw out everything you may have seen on Law & Order, or heard from your second cousin twice removed who took a LSAT prep course. Let the lawyers (and the judge) do their jobs!

Hopefully this helped provide you with a better understanding of how the jury selection process works and demystify some of the issues associated with what happens after you get that notice in the mail.

Nothing in this column should be construed as legal advice, and is offered as information only. Readers are advised to consult an attorney with knowledge of the specific state laws within their local jurisdictions.

George C. Gardner III is a graduate of the Howard University School of Law and has practiced in government, nonprofit, and private sector settings. His experience includes constitutional civil rights law, commercial litigation, and transactional matters in the small business context.  He is licensed in the State of New York where he has recently transitioned into solo and freelance practice. Follow him on Twitter: @ggiii.

Charles F. Coleman Jr. is a former Kings County (Brooklyn), NY prosecutor and presently functions as a federal trial attorney specializing in civil rights and employment discrimination. Follow him on Twitter: @CFColemanJr.

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