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June 18, 2018

Note: Justice Talking's grant funding expired in 2008 and the project has been closed. This website is an archive of the entire run of Justice Talking shows through June 30, 2008.
It is no longer being maintained. We apologize for any stale or broken links.
Featured Program

Race, Justice & Juries
Last Featured: 9/30/2002

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Note: Justice Talking ceased production on June 30 of 2008. Link information on this site is not maintained and is provided for historical interest only. Although correct when posted, The Annenberg Public Policy Center makes no claim as the the accuracy or continued availability of any third party web links found on this site.

In the 1980s, the practice of selecting “colorless” juries in Philadelphia courtrooms was so common that prosecutors promoted the strategy in a training video shown to new District Attorney recruits. By 1986, the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed race-based jury selection, but it has not stopped the practice. Judges, defense attorneys and others argue that allowing race to be a criteria in jury selection perpetuates outdated stereotypes and throws into question the fairness of the nation’s judicial system. Prosecutors say they should be given wide latitude to represent “the peoples’” side of criminal cases as best they can. While race may not be the only factor, they say, it is a contributing one. As the U.S. Supreme Court takes up the case of Thomas Miller-El, a Texas inmate sentenced to death by a nearly all-white jury, we’ll debate whether claims of jury discrimination are raised merely as fodder for appeals or does the issue strike at the heart of our justice system?

Jane Brady is the first woman ever to serve as Attorney General for the state of Delaware. Elected in 1994, she is one of the state's leading advocates for victims' rights in the state. Her Task Force on Child Victims developed an action plan to better meet the needs of Delaware's most vulnerable population, and most of the recommendations of the Task Force have now been adopted by lawmakers and agencies. She serves on the Executive Committee of the National Association of Attorneys General and the Board of Directors for the National District Attorneys Association. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of the National Organization for Victim Assistance.

Paul Butler is a law professor at George Washington University. He is a former federal prosecutor in the U.S. Department of Justice where he served as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney prosecuting drug and gun cases. He writes and teaches in criminal law and race and law. His articles have appeared in numerous journals including the Yale Law Journal, UCLA Law Review and the Harvard Law Review among others. He is a frequent commentator on CNN and NPR and an expert on race and jury issues.

Closing Quote
"I consider trial by jury as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man by which a government can be held to the principles of its Constitution."

— Thomas Jefferson

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Special Announcements
Justice Talking’s last broadcast & podcast was June 30, 2008.
Colorado Supreme Court Jury Reform Committee
New York Jury Project
Thomas Miller-El website
Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty
ACLU Thomas Miller-El Clemency Letter
A list of legislations and lawsuits concerning peremptory challenges
A proposal for improving the jury system (peremptory challenges, especially)
US Chamber of Commerce: Institute for Legal Reform
Stack and Sway: The New Science of Jury Consulting
by Neil J. Kressel, Dorit F. Kressel
The Art of Selecting a Jury
by Robert A. Wenke
The Color of Justice: Race, Ethnicity, and Crime in America
by Samuel Walker, Miriam Delone, Cassia C. Spohn
We, the Jury: The Jury System and the Ideal of Democracy: With a New Preface
by Jeffrey Abramson
On the Docket
Highlights of the Supreme Court Term
Presidential Signing Statements