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Statistical Measures and Methods Used to Analyze the Representativeness of Jury Pools

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FOSW01 - The nature of questions arising in court that can be addressed via probability and statistical methods

In the Castaneda v. Partida (1977) case the U.S. Supreme Court accepted statistical hypothesis testing for the analysis of data on the demographic mix of the individuals called for jury service over a period of time. Two years later, in Duren v. Missouri (1979), the Court noted that in order for defendant’s to receive a fair trial the system used to summon individuals for jury service should produce jury pools with a demographic mix similar to that of the jury-eligible members of the community. This talk will review the commonly used measures and methods and illustrate their use. A novel measure called disparity of the risk that was adopted by the Supreme Court of Michigan will be described and shown to be extremely stringent. It will be seen that in a jurisdiction where minorities form eight percent of the jury-eligible population, jury pools with a minority representation less than four percent will be deemed representative by this measure. If time permits an altern ative measure of the effect of minority under-representation on the chances of a defendant obtaining a “fair” jury will be recommended. 

This talk is part of the Isaac Newton Institute Seminar Series series.

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