May 01, 2016

Assessing and Achieving Jury Pool Representativeness

By Judge William Caprathe (ret.), Paula Hannaford-Agor, Stephanie McCoy Loquvam, and Shari Seidman Diamond

In February 2005, the American Bar Association (ABA) adopted the Principles for Juries and Jury Trials, promulgated by the Commission on the American Jury, as the new standards for the jury system.1 An inclusive and representative jury pool is critical to preserving the right to a fair and impartial jury. The inclusiveness and representativeness of the jury pool can be positively affected by court action. Principle 10(A) specifically addresses procedures for assembling juror source pools.

PRINCIPLE 10—COURTS SHOULD USE OPEN, FAIR AND FLEXIBLE PROCEDURES TO SELECT A REPRESENTATIVE POOL OF PROSPECTIVE JURORS.

A. Juror source pools should be assembled so as to assure representativeness and inclusiveness.

  1. The names of potential jurors should be drawn from a jury source list compiled from two or more regularly maintained source lists of persons residing in the jurisdiction. These source lists should be updated at least annually.
  2. The jury source list and the assembled jury pool should be representative and inclusive of the eligible population in the jurisdiction. The source list and the assembled jury pool are representative of the population to the extent the percentages of cognizable group members on the source list and in the assembled jury pool are reasonably proportionate to the corresponding percentages in the population.
  3. The court should periodically review the jury source list and the assembled jury pool for their representativeness and inclusiveness of the eligible population in the jurisdiction.
  4. Should the court determine that improvement is needed in the representativeness or inclusiveness of the jury source list or the assembled jury pool, appropriate corrective action should be taken.
  5. Jury officials should determine the qualifications of the prospective jurors by questionnaire or interview, and disqualify those who fail to meet eligibility requirements.
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