JURY SELECTION PROCESS
NEW REPORT: Latinos Under-represented in Federal Court Jury Pools in Washington State. New research from Whitman College analyzes Latino communities’ exclusions from jury pool source lists in Eastern Washington. This research examines how extensively Latinos are excluded, where this problem is most severe, and why some people believe that racially representative jury pools are important to society. Community Partner: Northwest Justice Project.
Seeking Fair Representation: Potential Barriers to Representation of Hispanic Populations in the Jury Pools of the EDWA
TOPIC: This study investigates the barriers to a racially and ethnically representative jury pool in the federal courts of the Eastern District of Washington (EDWA). By identifying specific geographic areas excluded from the EDWA jury pool source lists and analyzing the importance of racially representative jury pools, this report suggests ways to improve the representation of the Hispanic population in the jury pools of the federal courts in the EDWA. This research was conducted in collaboration with our community partner David Morales, an attorney from Northwest Justice Project (NJP).
Method 1: We conducted spatial analyses of the two source lists used to create federal court jury pools in the EDWA (i.e. voter registration lists and the Washington Department of Licensing list). We also conducted a spatial analysis of the 2013 Department of Enterprise Services (DES) merged source list. We used Geographical Information Systems (GIS) software in order to identify the geographical areas where Hispanic populations were being excluded from these source lists by analyzing the relationship between three variables: the proportion of Hispanics in the adult population, the proportion of Hispanics in the voting age population that were on each source list, and the Census designated urban areas of each county.
Method 2: We used the “Snowball Method” to recruit focus group participants from Walla Walla, Washington. We conducted three individual discussions with: non-Latinos, citizen Latinos, and non-citizen Latinos. Participants were asked if they thought that having racially diverse juries was important, what their attitudes were about jury service, and about other factors that have been shown to influence participation in juries and inclusion in jury pools such as race, language, and economic matters.
- We found that the voter registration list as a source list excludes many areas with high proportions of Hispanics in the adult population from the jury pool. We specifically identified Census designated urban areas in Adams, Benton, Franklin and Yakima County. This pattern of exclusion characterizes both the voter registration source list and the 2013 DES merged list used by the EDWA.
- Latinos citizens and non-citizens are enthusiastic about serving on juries even though they are being disproportionately excluded from the jury selection process.
- Eligibility questionnaires and constant juror evaluation regarding English proficiency has instilled doubt and insecurity within potential jurors when English is not their native language. In addition, Latino residents of the local Walla Walla area view the English requirements as unreasonably exclusionary because the requirements are too sweeping and vague.
- Minimal or lack of compensation for jury duty, and minimal access to affordable childcare services have prevented many in the population, including Latinos, from being included in jury pools.
Incorporate supplementary source lists in order to reach the Hispanic populations that are excluded from current jury pool source lists.
Divide question number four on the juror qualification questionnaire concerning English proficiency into four separate categories (i.e. reading, writing, speaking and understanding English).
Provide free or affordable childcare services to jury pool participants.
Provide non-citizens with the opportunity to be included in jury pools through legal amendments to U.S. law.