'Bad Juror' Lists and the Prosecutor's Duty to Disclose

Ira P. Robbins

American University - Washington College of Law


Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy, Vol. 22, No. 1, 2012
American University, WCL Research Paper No. 2012-43

Prosecutors sometimes use what are known as “bad juror” lists to exclude particular citizens from jury service. Not only does this practice interfere with an open and fair jury-selection process, thus implicating a defendant’s right to be tried by a jury of his or her peers, but it also violates potential jurors’ rights to serve in this important capacity. But who is on these lists? And is a prosecutor required to disclose the lists to defense counsel? These questions have largely gone unnoticed by legal analysts.

This Article addresses the prosecutor’s duty to disclose bad-juror lists. It reviews the federal Freedom of Information Act, a variety of state open-records acts and their exemptions, the work-product doctrine, the fundamental-fairness doctrine, and the discriminatory use of peremptory challenges (particularly in death-penalty cases). The Article concludes by advancing recommendations for overcoming disclosure exemptions and preserving the integrity of jury selection in the face of the continued use of bad-juror lists.

The judicial system in the United States is adversarial. Particularly in criminal cases, when prosecutors, who already hold enormous power, are permitted to put their thumbs on the scale of justice during jury selection, the entire system suffers — the rights of potential jurors, the rights of the defendant, the reliability of the outcome of the proceedings, and the appearance of justice.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 53

Keywords: jury, jury selection, jury dossiers, bad juror lists, FOIA, open-records acts, freedom of information, work-product doctrine, discovery, fundamental-fairness doctrine, prosecutors, disclosure, exemptions to disclosure, Batson analysis, criminal law, death penalty

JEL Classification: K00, K10, K14, K19, K30, K39, K40, K41, K42, K49

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Date posted: November 9, 2012  

Suggested Citation

Robbins, Ira P., 'Bad Juror' Lists and the Prosecutor's Duty to Disclose (2012). Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy, Vol. 22, No. 1, 2012; American University, WCL Research Paper No. 2012-43. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2172799

Contact Information

Ira P. Robbins (Contact Author)
American University - Washington College of Law ( email )
4300 Nebraska Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20016
United States
202-274-4235 (Phone)
202-274-4130 (Fax)
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