Monday, August 22, 2005

Striking news out of Dallas County, Texas

The Dallas Morning News curretly is publishing a comprehensive, and vitally important, series of stories that proves beyond any reasonable doubt that the practice of striking prospective jurors on the basis of race continues unabated.

The series is far to long to post here. However, here is the opening snippet:

A process of juror elimination----Dallas prosecutors say they don't discriminate, but analysis shows they are more likely to reject black jurors.

Racial discrimination was once so raw in Dallas County that a black college president who tried to serve on a jury was flung headfirst down the courthouse steps while sheriff's deputies watched.

The all-white jury - that enduring image of Jim Crow justice - is a fading sight around the Frank Crowley Courts Building. But while times, laws and leaders have changed, race still matters.

Prosecutors excluded eligible blacks from juries at more than twice the rate they rejected eligible whites, The Dallas Morning News found. In fact, being black was the most important personal trait affecting which jurors prosecutors rejected, according to the newspaper's statistical analysis. Jurors' attitudes toward criminal justice issues also played an important role, but even when blacks and whites answered key questions the same way, blacks were rejected at higher rates.

District Attorney Bill Hill denied that his prosecutors exclude, or strike, jurors on the basis of race.

"The statistics may show we strike more blacks, but it's not because they're black," he said. "It's because for one reason or another, they [prosecutors] don't think they are going to be fair and impartial."

The series began Sunday and continues through Tuesday. To read the whole thing, and to play an interactive game involving jury selection, go here.

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