In October of 2014,
Jason Van Dyke – a white Chicago police officer
shot and killed Laquan McDonald – a black teenager.
A year after the shooting,
the city released the graphic video that captured the incident.
It shows McDonald walking down a busy roadway,
holding a knife.
As he walks away from the officers,
Van Dyke shoots him, 16 times.
“16 shots! 16 shots!”
The response to the release of the footage was swift and widespread.
Chicago residents protested.
The police chief was fired.
The state’s attorney was voted out.
A Justice Department investigation
unearthed a pattern of excessive deadly force
and racial bias among Chicago Police officers.
And for the first time in more than 30 years,
a Chicago police officer faced murder charges.
While police officers who end up in court
often prefer a judge to hear their case,
Van Dyke opted for a jury.
But here’s the thing about that jury.
It didn’t look like the population of Cook County,
where the shooting took place.
In County where almost a quarter of people are black,
there was only one black juror.
When it comes to justice in America,
race has always been a part of the equation…
So what happens when a “jury of peers”
doesn’t actually look like our peers?
A good citizen will perform basic civic duties.
Your duty to serve on the jury
goes with your right to trial by jury.
Here’s how jury selection works.
First, prospective jurors are picked for duty out of a large pool.
Usually, a list of registered voters or licensed drivers.
Then comes a process called “voir dire”
or “to speak the truth.”
Prospective jurors are questioned by lawyers on both sides.
They’re looking for bias.
Like in this scene in “The Devil’s Advocate”
where a lawyer is trying to gauge the jury for bias against bankers.
Do you think as a juror you might be able to set aside
any prior opinions you might hold of the savings and loan industry?
If a lawyer has reason to believe
a juror will be biased,
they can ask the judge to dismiss the juror with cause.
Each side can also strike a certain
number of jurors without giving a reason.
These are called “peremptory challenges”,
and this is where things get tricky.
While lawyers aren’t technically allowed to
use these challenges to discriminate on the basis of race or sex,
that doesn’t mean they don’t try.
Like in this scene in the TV show How to Get Away with Murder.
We have to look for jurors who are prone to distrust authority.
What are some of the signifiers of this?
Number one is race.
There’s a larger distrust of police among black Americans.
You don’t call the police in my neighbourhood.
The racial balance of a jury can impact the verdict.
Studies have shown that all-white juries are harsher on black defendants,
make more errors,
and discuss less of the case facts.
And in another study,
in cases with a black defendant and white victim,
having one or more black male jurors
lowered the likelihood of a death sentence by a lot.
A difficult day for jurors in the OJ Simpson murder trial.
It’s why in high-profile, racially charged, trials like that of OJ Simpson
so much attention was given to the fact that
the jury had nine black members on it.
The jury has spoken.
and Simpson was acquitted.
… not guilty of the crime of murder.
There’s also the disturbing case of Emmett Till.
In 1955, two Mississippi men
Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam
were accused of kidnapping and brutally murdering
a 14-year-old black boy named Emmett Till.
Bryant’s wife alleged that
the boy had touched her hand and waist,
and whistled at her in a grocery store.
Emmett Till’s body was found days later in the Tallahatchie River,
beaten, shot, and
tied to a cotton gin with barbed wire.
Bryant and Milam were arrested
and charged with murder.
But the trial of Bryant and Milam would be decided by a jury…
a jury that consisted of 12 white men.
Despite multiple witnesses seeing the two men take the boy,
and one that saw the back of Milam’s truck dripping with blood
a jury of twelve white neighbors of the defendants reached the verdict
after one hour and five minutes of deliberations
The men would walk free.
Decades later, Bryant’s wife
who made that first accusation against Emmett Till
recanted her story.
Fast forward thirty years from the case of Emmett Till
and all-white juries still weren’t a thing of the past.
In the 1986 case Batson vs. Kentucky,
a prosecutor used his peremptory challenges
to remove all four black jurors from the pool.
The defendant’s appeal made it all the way to the Supreme Court.
Today, if one side suspects the other of
using peremptory strikes to racially discriminate,
they can file what’s called a Batson challenge.
But…the problem is….
Yeah so Batson is pretty much widely regarded as a failure.
If a lawyer accuses the other side of excluding a juror because of race,
the judge then has to decide whether it’s discriminatory.
The accused would have to come up with a reason
any reason – that’s race neutral,
for why they don’t want that juror.
Courts have really allowed kind of any reason.
For example, like an attorney might say
“Well… I struck all the people who seem suspicious of the police.”
And so that would on its face be racially neutral
but it’s still kind of allows for that disproportionate impact.
You can see that in this leaked 1987 training video
in which attorney Jack McMahon explains
how to exclude black people and get away with it.
There’s the blacks from low-income areas are less likely to convict…
and as a result you don’t want those people on your jury.
Batson vs. Kentucky, I’m sure you’ve all become aware of that…
The best way to avoid problems is to protect yourself.
When you do have a black jury,
you question them like them on this little sheet that
you have mark something down that you can articulate.
Say well the woman had a kid the same age as defendant
and I thought she’d be sympathetic to him.
Or she’s unemployed and I just don’t like unemployed people
because I find out they are not stable
This kind of strategy has led to a pattern
of excluding black jurors across the country.
And in North Carolina, between 1990 and 2010 —
prosecutors struck black jurors 2.5 times
as often as non black jurors.
Another report found half of all juries that
delivered death sentences in Houston County, Alabama,
between 2005 and 2009 were all white.
The other half had a single black juror…
even though the county is 27 percent black.
And Ann Eisenberg did a study that showed
the prosecution struck 35 percent of black jurors in South Carolina
who made it through the voir dire process compared to 12 percent of white jurors.
I asked a colleague of mine
when I finished this study
I said you know… okay, I’ve shown this
you know… what of it now?
There’s so much evidence.
而他说 “没错 证明陪审团选择受种族歧视影响
And he said “yeah, proving that racial discrimination effects jury selection
is like proving that the sun rises.”
But there might be signs of change.
In the case of Jason Van Dyke,
the Chicago police officer who shot Laquan McDonald,
a majority white jury convicted him of murder.
It was Chicago’s first murder conviction of a police officer in 50 years.
We the jury find the defendant, Jason Von Dyke, guilty of second-degree murder.
They found him guilty of second degree murder, a lesser charge.
And guilty of all 16 counts of aggravated battery.
One for each shot at Laquan McDonald.
We the jury find the defendant Jason Van Dyke guilty of
aggravated battery with a firearm, 16th shot.
Thanks for watching.
There’s a lot I couldn’t fit into the video,
like how do we fix the problem
of racial discrimination in jury selection?
Over the years lawyers have suggested solutions
like choosing from a bigger jury pool of underrepresented people
that aren’t on voter registration lists or driver license lists.
Or getting rid of peremptory challenges altogether.
It’s a complicated problem to solve but there are
procedural tweaks that could make the system a lot more fair.