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Angel Harris Writes on Jury Selection Racial Discrimination in Death Penalty Cases in the Huffington Post

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Batson and The Legacy of Lynchings

This past Saturday marked the 30th anniversary of the United State Supreme Court’s decision in Batson v. Kentucky, which prohibits the intentional exclusion of prospective jurors from service on an individual case based on race. The importance of this landmark decision cannot be overstated because, as the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall once commented, “Illegal and unconstitutional jury selection procedures cast doubt on the integrity of the whole judicial process. They create the appearance of bias in the decision of individual cases, and they increase the risk of actual bias as well.” Peters v. Kiff, 407 U.S. 493, 502 (1972). And contemporary studies bear out the truth of Justice Marshall’s analysis: compared to diverse juries, all-white juries spend less time deliberating, make more errors, rely on implicit biases and consider fewer alternative perspectives. Interestingly, studies have shown the effects of diversity were not wholly attributable to the specific performance of Black participants. In fact, the mere presence of individuals from other racial or ethnic groups improves the likelihood of a more well-rounded discussion among jurors.

Read Angel Harris' full article here.