Because we just witness a milestone racist verdict by an all white jury who represented Trayvon Martin who was a 17 year old innocent U.S citizen murdered for being black and walking. He had no one to represent him ethnically due to all the juror were white and racist.
Today in America, there is perhaps no arena of public life or governmental administration
where racial discrimination is more widespread, apparent, and seemingly tolerated than
in the selection of juries. Nearly 135 years after Congress enacted the 1875 Civil Rights
Act to eliminate racially discriminatory jury selection, the practice continues, especially in serious criminal and capital cases.
The staﬀ of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) has looked closely at jury selection procedures in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Tennessee. We uncovered shocking evidence of racial discrimination in jury selection in every
state. We identiﬁed counties where prosecutors have excluded nearly 80% of African Americans qualiﬁed for jury service. We discovered majority-black counties where capital defendants nonetheless were tried by all-white juries. We found evidence that some prosecutors
employed by state and local governments actually have been trained to exclude people on the
basis of race and instructed on how to conceal their racial bias. In many cases, people of color
not only have been illegally excluded but also denigrated and insulted with pretextual reasons
intended to conceal racial bias. African Americans have been excluded because they appeared
to have “low intelligence”; wore eyeglasses; were single, married, or separated; or were too
old for jury service at age 43 or too young at 28. They have been barred for having relatives
who attended historically black colleges; for the way they walk; for chewing gum; and, frequently, for living in predominantly black neighborhoods. These “race-neutral” explanations
and the tolerance of racial bias by court oﬃcials have made jury selection for people of color
a hazardous venture, where the sting of exclusion often is accompanied by painful insults and
While courts sometimes have attempted to remedy the problem of discriminatory jury
selection, in too many cases today we continue to see indiﬀerence to racial bias in jury selection. Too many courtrooms across this country facilitate obvious racial bigotry and discrimination every week when criminal trial juries are selected. The underrepresentation and
exclusion of people of color from juries has seriously undermined the credibility and reliability
of the criminal justice system, and there is an urgent need to eliminate this practice. This report contains recommendations we believe must be undertaken to confront the continuing
problem of illegal racial bias in jury selection. We sincerely hope that everyone committed to
the fair administration of law will join us in seeking an end to racially discriminatory jury selection. This problem has persisted for far too long, and respect for the law cannot be achieved
until it is eliminated and equal justice for all becomes a reality.
Bryan A. Stevenson
1. Dedicated and thorough enforcement of anti-discrimination laws designed to prevent
racially biased jury selection must be undertaken by courts, judges, and lawyers involved
in criminal and civil trials, especially in serious criminal cases and capital cases.
2. The rule banning racially discriminatory use of peremptory strikes announced inBatson
v. Kentucky should be applied retroactively to death row prisoners and others with
lengthy sentences whose convictions or death sentences are the product of illegal,
racially biased jury selection but whose claims have not been reviewed because they
were tried before 1986.
3. To protect the credibility and integrity of criminal trials, claims of illegal racial discrimination in the selection of juries should be reviewed by courts on the merits and exempted from procedural bars or technical defaults that shield and insulate from remedy
racially biased conduct.
4. Prosecutors who are found to have engaged in racially biased jury selection should be
held accountable and should be disqualiﬁed from participation in the retrial of any person wrongly convicted as a result of discriminatory jury selection. Prosecutors who repeatedly exclude people of color from jury service should be subject to ﬁnes, penalties,
suspension, and other consequences to deter this practice.
5. The Justice Department and federal prosecutors should enforce 18 U.S.C. § 243, which
prohibits racial discrimination in jury selection, by pursuing actions against district attorney’s oﬃces with a history of racially biased selection practices.
6. States should provide remedies to people called for jury service who are illegally excluded on the basis of race, particularly jurors who are wrongly denigrated by state oﬃ-
cials. States should implement strategies to disincentivize discriminatory conduct by
state prosecutors and judges, who should enforce rather than violate anti-discrimination laws.