Why Jury Diversity Matters

From: Minnesota Public Radio

By: Bob Collins

It was a short first day in the trial of officer Jeronimo Yanez, charged in the killing of Philando Castile during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights last summer. The jury pool of about 50 people is getting the afternoon off to finish questionnaires about their potential as jurors.

There’s no question on it asking the jurors their race; that’s illegal in Minnesota and elsewhere. So reporters were left today to look at individuals and try to figure out race and ethnicity.

Various reports from the courtroom said a half dozen of the 50 people in the first jury pool appeared to be African-American; another handful appeared to be people of color. For comparison sake, the demographic makeup of Ramsey County is 70 percent of the population is white, and in Hennepin County, 75 percent of the population is white.

The makeup of the jury will be inspected closely, of course, because of allegations that race is at the heart of many shootings in which African-Americans end up dead at the hands of police.

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