Is an African-American defendant entitled to greater protections during the voir dire phase of a trial for aggravated murder in a city with a long history of racism?

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Is an African-American defendant entitled to greater protections during the voir dire phase of a trial for aggravated murder in a city with a long history of racism?

In the particular case I am asking about, the defendants were both African-American and the jury was comprised of just one African-American juror; an alternate juror who never participated in the deliberations. To me, it would seem that if a judge knows the county has a problem with racism, he would want to ensure that the jury was comprised of a representation of African-Americans in a ratio similar to the racial composition of the county. Is there any case law that you can refer me to to get me started?

Asked on March 14, 2013 under Criminal Law, Ohio

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

This issue is very complicated and it would depend on what happened during jury selection for one type of challenge - known as a Batson challenge from Batson v. Kentucky (you can google it; it will come up).  But it sounds as if you may have a valid point of argument in the jury's composition.  Good luck.


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