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Where Did Hispanic Jurors Go? Racial and Ethnic Disenfranchisement in the Grand Jury and the Search for Justice

NCJ Number
Western Criminology Review Volume: 2 Issue: 2 Dated: 2000 Pages: 1-31
Hiroshi Fukurai
Date Published
31 pages
The selection of Hispanic grand jurors in Santa Cruz (Calif.) was studied with respect to racial and ethnic discrimination and disenfranchisement.
The study site had a large Hispanic population but a very small black population, suggesting that most instances of racial and ethnic discrimination in grand jury selection involve Hispanic jurors. Results suggested that the use of the key-man system, along with representative quotas imposed on supervisorial districts after consolidating minority residents into a few districts, effectively limits Hispanic participation on grand jury service. These factors lead to racially and ethnically unrepresentative juries, undermine public confidence in the grand jury system, and further perpetuate the notion of racial discrimination and disenfranchisement in the criminal justice system. Results also revealed that California trial judges and jury commissioners still have the discretion to select and appoint potential jurors to grand juries. However, key-man-appointed grand jurors are less likely to be members of racial and ethnic minorities. This practice exist even though the United States Supreme Court has prohibited the use of key-man selection systems for the appointment of grand jurors in Federal courts. Findings suggested that affirmative action jury selection strategies may be necessary to create racially diverse and ethnically representative grand juries in California. Tables, figure, and 42 references (Author abstract modified)