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Too Few Minorities in Manhattan Jury Pools

Posted Jun 27, 2007 8:20 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Whites are overrepresented in Manhattan jury pools, a study has found.

Whites of all ethnicities make up 78 percent of potential jurors, even though they are only 54 percent of the population, according to a story about the study in the New York Times. Hispanics made up 6.3 percent of the total pool, but are 27 percent of the population.

Because researchers are barred from interviewing potential jurors, their study was based on their own assessment of jurors’ race and ethnicity. They observed more than 12,000 potential jurors for the study, conducted by Citizen Action.

Bob Cohen, a lawyer and the policy director at Citizen Action, wrote the report. “Even if it’s difficult to have a mathematical representation for every trial, we shouldn’t have a system where there’s effectively no representation,” he told the newspaper.

The study recommends measures to increase minority representation, such as recruiting more jurors from zip codes with large minority populations and allowing felons to serve on juries.

The January 2006 ABA Journal reported in “Churning up the Jury Pool” that minority underrepresentation is a particular problem on federal juries.

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