cedar rapids / iowa city criminal defense

1450 Boyson Road Suite C-2A Hiawatha, Iowa 52233     319-389-1889

In the same case in which I raised a Batson challenge, my client was the only African-American in the room after the only
African-American was struck. In that case, a Korean War veteran admitted to me that he was, in fact, racist. Perhaps it was a ploy to get out of jury duty. 
But he acknowledged that he had been drafted during the Korean War and, despite the fact that President Eisenhower had by executive order integrated the US Armed forces, the rest of the United States was segregated.
This potential juror did not have a positive experience in his integrated barracks due to individual circumstances and rivalries. As a result, he said he harbored prejudice against African Americans. I applauded his honesty and then I moved to strike his participation in the jury trial for cause. Despite the Court’s efforts to rehabilitate this potential juror, he was steadfast in his prejudice, saying that he could not be impartial. The motion to strike was granted. The truth is that the Defendant in a criminal case is quite alone in the courtroom notwithstanding the crowd that is involuntarily assembled there. To suggest that the Defendant gets to “pick” from this pool who will be on the jury of his or her peers is a misnomer. The truth is that a Defendant is only entitled to “strike” a small number of the worst potential jurors from this list. There is typically a much longer list of likely strikes than the number of strikes allotted. Under these circumstances, both defense counsel and the Defendant will have to work together to decide just who to deselect from the panel. A blog is not legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading a blog or by sending unsolicited information to an attorney over the Internet.

"The Jury by John Morgan" by painted by John Morgan, uploaded to Wikipedia (en) by Swampyank - The Jury by John Morgan.jpg in Wikipedia (English). Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Jury_by_John_Morgan.jpg#mediaviewer/File:The_Jury_by_John_Morgan.jpg

Many criminal defendants have the idea that a “jury of your peers” means that the racial and socioeconomic backgrounds of those selected for the jury pool in that particular week must mirror the percentages of percentages of particular races and socioeconomic status in the community at large. 


This is not the case as long as the overall jury pool itself—from which the jurors are drawn—is representative of such populations. 
​That means those selected for the jury might randomly exclude African Americans or Latinos even if the defendant is African-American or Latino. It will be important to pay attention to this dynamic in jury selection.

Does a criminal defendant get to pick his/her own jury? 

by David Cmelik