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Jury Project

Posted on August 25th, 2007 in Press Releases/News & Information by admin

The Texas NAACP Jury Project

Starting this month the Texas State Conference of the NAACP, with a grant from the Open Society Institute, has embarked on an extensive year-long study of the experience of minorities on juries in Texas. Spurred by troubling evidence that rates of minority participation on juries are considerably lower than they should be, the study seeks to isolate and analyze the different variables that impact rates of minority participation on juries. We are particularly interested in the use of peremptory strikes by prosecutors as a tactical tool to influence the make-up of juries (in light of evidence obtained in other studies suggesting that blacks are especially likely to be “struck” from juries in this manner). The NAACP’s work on this issue is motivated by the spirit of the Supreme Court’s Batson decision, which makes it unconstitutional to strike citizens from juries purely on the basis of race.

As with all things, the State Conference is depending heavily on its local branches to bring this project to fruition, as much of the study consists of gathering anecdotal input from community residents in hopes of capturing evidence of larger trends. Also, local courts are being asked to provide documents, such as jury cards, that will allow for the generation of hard statistics on minority participation.

We also ask for your help. Please fill out the accompanying survey and return it to your local branch. Or, if you prefer, mail it to our state office at 1107 E. 11th St, Ste. A Austin, TX 78702.

The end goal is to propose a legislative remedy for what we see as a real, systemic problem. With this study providing a comprehensive account of the experience of the minority juror in Texas, the Texas NAACP hopes to ensure that African-American and other racial and ethnic minorities are able to serve on juries to the fullest extent possible.

Made 7 July 2006
by Erica Adams. Contact her.

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