“…a jury of one’s peers”

Posted: August 19, 2008 in Commentary

Now this next topic I’ve actually talked about before on this site. The following article reminded me of that post.

Confessions of an angry ‘white’ juror
E.J. Montini

What set him off was the brief questionnaire that accompanied his summons.

Down near the bottom, after the list of occupations or conditions that could get a person excused from duty, there is a box on “Race/Ethnicity/Gender” that reads: “To assist in ensuring that all people are represented on juries, please fill in completely one or more circles which describe you. Nothing disclosed will affect your selection for jury service.”

To which Vanegas scribbled in, “Then why ask?”

“I don’t know how everybody else thinks of themselves, but I think of myself as an American, period,” he said. “Isn’t that supposed to be the way it is in court? That everyone there is the same? We’re just citizens, right?” (more…)

For the record, Vanegas is of mixed Italian and Mexican heritage.

Now, do American juries have a history of issuing out sentences based on the race of both the jury themselves and the accused? You bet. But does this automatically mean that a jury of one’s peers (translation: In most quarters this means an all Black jury if the accused is Black) will issue out a fair judgment?

The following are excerpts from an article I used in my post “Acquittal rates

“Study after study verifies that color makes a difference at every stage of a criminal case”, according to law professor and O.J. defense lawyer Gerald Uelmen. “Whites do better at getting charges dropped or reduced to lesser offenses.” Do they? On Wednesday, the Center for Equal Opportunity will release figures suggesting that black defendants actually do better than whites at beating criminal charges. Moreover, although the numbers are sketchy, big-city juries may be acquitting blacks at a higher rate than whites.


Blacks did significantly better than whites at beating drug and weapons charges. On drug trafficking charges, 24 percent were not convicted versus 14 percent of whites; similar margins were seen for other drug offenses (32 percent vs. 23 percent) and weapons charges (32 percent vs. 22 percent). The other side’s obvious rejoinder is that blacks are being overcharged with these offenses in the first place. When DAs find the evidence won’t hold up, this side maintains, they have to drop the cases.

Admittedly, the center’s numbers can’t resolve this challenge, but they do cast doubt on the simple idea that prosecutors and judges are adding their own dose of bias against blacks. (Hispanic defendants, incidentally, fared roughly the same as whites overall.) And this still leaves the study’s most explosive finding: Whopping disparities in favor of black defendants accused of rape and other crimes against individuals that fall outside the dominant trio of categories — murder, robbery and assault.

Other crimes against persons, a catch-all category covering charges from manslaughter to extortion to felony child abuse, showed a wide gap: 48 percent of blacks escaped conviction versus 28 percent of whites. And a startling 51 percent of rape charges against blacks ended in non-conviction compared with 25 percent for whites.

These happened to be the same two categories in which juries showed the most extreme tendency to acquit black defendants. Of cases that made it to trial, juries acquitted 69 percent of black defendants in other-crimes-against-persons cases, as against 29 percent of whites. And they acquitted 83 percent — yes, I thought it was a misprint too, but Lerner says it’s the real number — of blacks charged with rape, compared with just 24 percent of whites. (more…)

Here are some excerpts from another article:”When Race Trumps Truth in Court

Clearly, there has been a booming trade in black racism in American courtrooms for some time. Then came the O.J. Simpson verdict. “The jury did not deliberate, it emoted,” observed commentator Mona Charen afterwards. “If the prosecution’s case was so weak, why did Johnnie Cochran argue in his summation that jurors disregard the evidence?…The reaction of so many American blacks to the verdict was unseemly and offensive….One of the jurors, a former member of the Black Panther party, gave the black power salute” to Simpson in court right after the acquittal. “Was the jury fair-minded? Is black America?” asks Charen. “Only a nation of fools would lull itself into believing that this was not a racially motivated and a racist verdict.” She warns that even “if Marcia Clark had produced a videotape of the murders in progress, the defense would have argued that the filmmaker was a racist and the jury would have found ‘reasonable doubt.’”


In his Yale Law Journal and Harper’s Magazine articles, Butler makes it clear that racialized justice is not only a thriving inner city practice, but also a theory built on determined black intellectual rationalizations. He himself is a case in point. “During a training session for new assistants conducted by experienced prosecutors,” he recalls, “we rookies were informed that we would lose many of our cases, despite having persuaded a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was guilty. We would lose because some black jurors would refuse to convict black defendants who they knew were guilty….some African American jurors vote to acquit black defendants for racial reasons.” Though he was then serving as a prosecutor of drug and gun criminals, Butler himself was soon converted to “the juror’s desire not to send another black man to jail.” Describing America as “a police state,” he currently argues that for “pragmatic and political reasons,” black jurors have a “moral responsibility…to emancipate some guilty black outlaws.” (more…)

This whole issue is sadly an unbroken circle. Black man is convicted of a crime. Black man goes to trial where he is tried by a jury comprising of mostly Black folks who live in the general area. Despite overwhelming evidence that the convicted is guilty, some Blacks on the jury feel compelled to set him free, lest they align themselves with a system that has imprisoned so many Black men. Black man goes free, only to continue to contribute to the ever-growing crime problem in that city. The “people” whom the jury represents then complain that the police isn’t doing enough to stop crime.

These evening of the score -type rulings do NOTHING to address the crime problem that affects these communities. In fact, it contributes to the problem.

There is another article that I quoted in my post that gave a plausible explanation as to why inner-city Black juries tend to acquit Blacks at a high rate. While I do believe the author made some fair points, he fails to explain the trend that many of these who are accused will go right back out to streets only to commit additional crimes.

Ensuring that the convicted is given a fair, due process is one thing. Equating racial makeup of a jury to justice slaps in the face of this notion that justice in this country is blind. Last I checked, a blind person doesn’t see color.

  1. DarkStar says:

    One of the jurors, a former member of the Black Panther party, gave the black power salute” to Simpson in court right after the acquittal.

    I’ve heard that before but I have yet to see it supported. Some time ago, I caught Mona Charen in a flat out lie, so she gets no leeway from me.

  2. Give it a rest says:

    I guess somethings will never die!

    Like the verdict or not in the OJ case but is was fair and just.
    OJ defense team did an excellent job of impeaching the crediblity of the L.A. Police dept and hence forth the case the DA presented that was born out of suppossed evidence collected by said LAPD.

    Considering that the LAPD has a lengthy documented history of abusing black people and lying about there actions, why on earth would you expect any black on that jury to believe a word utter by those detectives?
    More to the point once Cochran was able to show that the police did NOT handle the evidence in a manner fitting this case or any other for that matter it was a done deal.

    Now one question, For a man/ women to be aquitted by a jury the verdict MUST be unanimous. Considering that the jury was not entirely black what about the others? If they did not agree they could ahve easily hung that jury and force the case to be retired. BUT THEY DID NOT!

    OK enough of OJ, and lets talk about black and white justice in America.

    It is 5:30pm in NYC and the NYPD is getting ready for its night patrol. Needless to say they will NOT be setting up “pot stings” and other quality of life stings in the various white neighborhoods in NYC. You can go into just about any park (not playground) in the white hoods and smell that mary-jane smoke liberally. On the otherhand their are many undercover cops getting ready to hide in bushes and do all types of stuff to bust and arrest any young black or latino man or women for simply peeing in against a tree in the parks were they live.

    Simply you cant get tried and convicted if the cops are not going to arrest you! So no need for liberal justice after the fact.

    The fact of the matter is committed crimes are not the determinate of who does go to jail in the USA. Like it or not RACE is the biggest factor. For some reason the criminal justice system tends to look upon whites as being human beings and blacks as being animals. White are more worthy of a second chance than a poor black person.

    Come to the state of NY and you will find that the prison system is one of teh biggest employers outside of the NYC metro area. Many areas of NY state are 100% dependent on a steady influx of prisoners from NYC to maintain the economy there. These area are, you guessed it, predominately white.

    As yourself is this a coincidence? Or is it a system to keep some white folks upstate employed in the prisons or in businesses supporting the prisons?
    What would happen to those good white folks IF the supply of black and latino men was to dry up due to lack of crime (Im sorry convictions)?

    At the end of the day each balck man sent upstate is worth about $50,000 per year or more to the community in which the prison is located.

    Now compare and contrast this with what was discussed in the “cost of education” topic from the other day.

    I hate to sound like a conspricy theorist but……………

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