The Framework Comes Crumbling Down: Juryquest in a Batson World
James R. Gadwood
affiliation not provided to SSRN
Boston University Law Review, Vol. 88, pp. 291-319, 2008
JuryQuest is a computer program which claims to provide an empirical, scientifically-tested basis for determining, ex ante, the attitudinal predispositions of prospective jurors. By relying on seven demographic characteristics - race, gender, age, education, occupation, marital status, and prior jury service - JuryQuest claims to be able to determine whether a prospective juror is likely to be more sympathetic (or just plain biased) towards a particular side. Once such determinations are made, an attorney need only exercise his peremptory challenges to eliminate the unfavorable jurors. Ethics and effectiveness aside, JuryQuest poses a troubling constitutional issue which has received surprisingly little attention. In the 1986 landmark decision Batson v. Kentucky, the Supreme Court held that the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause prohibits race-based peremptory challenges. This holding was later extended to peremptory challenges based on gender. At first brush then, attorneys who exercise peremptory challenges on the basis of JuryQuest - which unabashedly considers race and gender - should, at the very least, pause to consider whether their use of JuryQuest implicates Batson and its progeny. As background, Part I will provide a brief history of the jurisprudence leading up to and following the Batson decision. Part II will unpack the three-step Batson framework in order to provide necessary insight into the operation of each step. Part III will introduce JuryQuest and explain its methodology. Part IV will then analyze the interaction between JuryQuest and the Batson framework, arguing that the use of JuryQuest - and, indeed, JuryQuest itself - violates Batson in certain jurisdictions, but not in others. Additionally, Part IV will argue that, in jurisdictions that would find a Batson violation, JuryQuest will ultimately turn the three-step framework into a one-step evidentiary showing. Part V discusses proposals designed to foster disclosure of JuryQuest's use, and is followed by a brief conclusion.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 29
Keywords: Batson, JuryQuest, Scientific Jury Selection, Peremptory Challenge
JEL Classification: K40, K41, K42Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: March 21, 2008
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