Race and Gender Discrimination in Jury Selection

Race and Gender Discrimination in Jury Selection
KBLA 1580 AM Talk Radio Editorial

The appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals of the guilty verdict on seven counts of conspiracy, bribery and honest services fraud in United States of America v. Mark Ridley-Thomas is receiving national attention. Observers of this case have weighed in by filing three “friend of the court” briefs — each touching on different aspects of the case.  For example, the trial record reveals how prosecutors undermined MRT’s constitutional right to a trial by one’s peers.

During jury selection, the government used two of its peremptory challenges to exclude the only two Black women in the jury pool from the jury. By using its peremptory challenges to remove the only two Black female jurors, the government simultaneously denied MRT the right to a trial by his peers and the right of the two Black women to sit in judgment of him as peers. They were denied the opportunity to impartially weigh the evidence for and against the defendant for no apparent reason other than being Black AND female.  Their exclusion from the jury raises significant issues that touch on the unique ways in which gender AND race intersect to deny equal protection and equal rights.

Legal scholars, civil rights advocates, historians and equal justice legal centers from across the country have filed a “friend of the court” brief in the case.