Politics & Government
4:03 pm
Wed June 27, 2012

Forum to examine lack of jury diversity

Minorities are underrepresented on Michigan juries, and an effort is under way to change that.

The U.S. District Court commissioned a study on jury diversity in the eastern district of Michigan, which includes Wayne County.

It found while 21 percent of the population is African American, that number is not reflected on juries. U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade says that undermines public confidence in the criminal justice system.

"When they bring in the 70 or so people from whom you will choose the 12 jurors who will actually decide the case, you would expect there would be 14 or 15 African Americans, and instead you might see one or two.

McQuade says Wayne County has a high percentage of undelivered jury summons, likely because the economic crisis has forced people to move.

She also says many people who receive a jury summons ignore it.

"Part of it is a lack of confidence in the system," McQuade says. "But we want to raise awareness of the importance of serving for jury duty."

She says the court McQuade says the court also plans to reach out to communities, churches, groups and schools to raise awareness of the importance of jury duty.

A public forum about minorities on jury duty will begin at 5:30  p.m. Wednesday at Wayne County Community College's downtown campus.