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Column: Does Race Matter in Jury Selection? Yes, Yes, Yes!

Allan Lengel

 
 
By Allan Lengel
For Deadline Detroit

DETROIT –– Does race matter when it comes to jury selection?

Yes, yes, yes.

I can say so, at least from my first-hand experience as a juror.

But before I go there, let me explain why I bring this up.

Last week, during jury selection in the high-profile federal corruption trial in Detroit of Bobby Ferguson, a pal of ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, the defense filed a motion asking that the judge do the jury selection all over again because there weren’t enough African-Americans on the panel. The judge has yet to rule on the matter and jury selection continued on Monday.

At the same time, a prospective juror told the Detroit News that she thought she was bounced from the jury pool because she was black and her appearance (she had tattoos).

It reminded of me when I served on a jury in D.C. Superior Court in 1999.

I was a reporter at the Washington Post at the time, covering crime. The jury was composed of six blacks and six whites, all residents of D.C.

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