• Dec 28, 2009

A Right to a Fair Cross-Section of the Community: Amicus in Berghuis v. Smith

The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that the Sixth Amendment guarantees the right to a jury drawn from a fair cross-section of the community. In an amicus brief in Berghuis v. Smith, jointly filed on behalf of the Houston Institute, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the National Urban League, Representative John Conyers, Jr., Mr. Wayne J. Bentley, and Mr. Richard E. Hillary, we argue that the systematic exclusion of African-Americans from jury venire panels inflicts grave injustices on excluded jurors, violating both the Fourteenth and Sixth Amendments, preventing participation in a fundamental aspect of civic life. Further, we argue that systemically excluding African-Americans from jury venire panels detrimentally impacts the effectiveness and legitimacy of the jury system, as a jury’s racial composition can influence the nature and quality of its deliberation processes and the verdict and the failure to empanel diverse juries can undermine the public’s confidence in the legal system.

Read our brief:

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