Juries, Star Trek and racists

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Serving on a jury is one of those duties to which we commit ourselves in order to maintain a fair judicial system. The evolution of the jury is also a testament to the progress we have made in creating a climate of trust in the legal system. No longer does a jury of one’s peers mean a panel of white men. In fact, it is against the law to seat a jury based on race or gender. And who can forget the juror who appeared each day in court in a Star Trek uniform during the Arkansas Whitewater trial?

Of course, I get it that no one wants to commit themselves to leave work and family for months on end to listen to lawyers prattle on about whether the “glove fits” or whether one guy copied some one else’s design of a widget. Still, I was disturbed to read how a Brooklyn woman apparently attempted to keep herself off a federal jury in a criminal case dealing with a purported Mafia crime boss, Vincent (“Vinny Gorgeous”) Bascianol. When asked to identify three people she least admired, she wrote in her jury questionnaire: “African-Americans, Hispanics and Haitians.” Of course, that was on top of deriding police officers as being lazy.

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