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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Study: Blacks Routinely Excluded From Juries : NPR

Study: Blacks Routinely Excluded From Juries : NPR

Twenty-five years ago, Earl Jerome McGahee was charged with two counts of murder in the deaths of his ex-wife and her friend.

McGahee, an African-American, was tried by an all-white jury in an Alabama county that was more than 55 percent black.

The district attorney dismissed every one of the 24 blacks who qualified to serve on the jury, including Edith Ferguson, who had worked for the Selma, Ala., Police Department for many years. The reason cited for striking Ferguson from being a juror: "low intelligence."

Bryan Stevenson of the nonprofit group Equal Justice Initiative tells NPR's Guy Raz that assertions about intelligence are "one of the most troubling but persistent reasons" given to dismiss potential jurors who are black. Many of those potential jurors are college graduates, Stevenson says.

Last year, McGahee was granted a new trial because of the racially discriminatory jury selection in his original case. But many defendants are not so lucky.

Unfortunately in America racial discrimination remains an intractable and often unacknowledged problem. Many people in their naivety think that that Obama's ascendancy to the presidency means that racial discrimination is no longer a current phenomena. Here is another example of how facts show otherwise.

John H. Armwood

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