July 25, 2005

Chicago criminal court judge: "No all white juries"

Cook county Circuit Judge Evelyn Clay has indicated that she has a rule: No all white juries in her courtroom.

So what is she going to do on those occasions that an all-white jury pool is made available, go grab the first two blacks she sees on the street to fill out the jury pool?

"Folks, you all know I have a rule; I don't seat all white jurors," Circuit Judge Evelyn Clay said as a jury was being picked to hear a murder trial last month, according to court transcripts.

Chief Criminal Court Judge Paul Biebel Jr. said last week that he had recently been made aware of the remarks Clay made.

Clay admitted they were "indelicately stated" and said she regretted being blunt. But it is her view that qualified African-Americans were being left off juries without good reason, she said.

"I try to preside over jury trials in a fair and impartial way--that is always my goal," Clay said. "I carry out all my duties and responsibilities with that goal."

Clay, who is African-American, made the remarks in chambers before three separate trials, according to transcripts reviewed by the Tribune.

I guess she really wants to make sure that there are exactly one or two blacks on each and every jury that comes in. Does this mean that she's going to send an all black jury out, or an all Hispanic jury out? I doubt it.

So much for a judge being professional and unbiased. Then again, this is Chicago we are talking about. Apparently (and to swipe a classic quote), "that's the Chicago way."

Posted by: mhking at 02:21 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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1 I live in the Chicago metropolitan area. Chicago is at least 40% black. Cook County's population has a lot of black folks (and quite a few Latinos) So the judge is right on this one: there shouldn't even BE any all-white juries in Cook County. If so, something is up. Too much racial diversity here for it to be up to 'chance'. Of course, there shouldn't be an all-anything jury in these parts.

Posted by: shay at July 26, 2005 05:41 AM (0kBuQ)

2 Shay, you're off on this one. I help pick juries in Dallas with similar county makeup (about 30% in Dallas) and it isn't uncommon to end up with no qualified black jurors in a jury panel. The fact of the matter is that a higher percentage of black people have criminal backgrounds that make them unsuitable, actively try to get off of juries (for financial reasons, usually, because they hold jobs that don't pay for time off on jury duty), and often for simple bias -- against the police, against lawyers, against white people, etc, or refusal to follow the instructions of the court. Your average qualified juror is an old white person, or a white housewife. That won't change unless we decide that we are going to lower our standards for jurors, or until we change the culture for non-white young people.

Posted by: Phelps at July 27, 2005 07:02 AM (KAQTS)

3 I think it's a good idea that Judge Clay is taking the necessary steps to provide fair and just court hearings for minorities. She's doing just that by NOT allowing an all-white jury in any of her court proceedings. There's nothing wrong with that. Especially when there is still so much hidden racism going on everyday/all day. What minority would even want an all-white jury to decide if they're guilty or not guilty? Come on now. We all know how the world operates... Some people get arrested, beat and falsely imprisoned solely because of their race, some people don't get casted for good movie deals because of their race, some movies don't make it to our neighborhood theaters because of the lead actors/actresses based on their race, some people don't get hired for jobs based on their race, etc. I could go on and on. I don't understand why people are still trying to pretend racism doesn't exist when it smacks us all in the face each and every day. Lots of people are NOT fair and are racists. Why let those people be in charge of another person's life - if they're innocent or guilty. We need people sitting on the jury who will actually listen to the facts and make a fair judgment based on same. Not that having one black person on the jury will change anything. However, it will wake up everyone else who would have easily voted "guilty." It won't be that easy with a black person on the jury. Racists never want to show their true colors so they won't act like a racist in front of the minority. They will only act like a racist amongst other racists. If these people didn’t have a history of acting in bad faith, then there would be no discussion about this issue to date. If these people didn’t have a history of discriminating against blacks / other minorities… if they didn’t have a history of being racists by not giving all people the same opportunities, etc., then there would be no racial issues to date. But there are racial issues and therefore, we must observe and try to remedy the problem to the best of our ability. Judge Clay’s way of doing this is to say, “There will be no all-white juries in my courtroom.” That’s right. I've always heard that you're supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. That's not true. From the time you are arrested, you are treated like a criminal, talked to like a criminal, beat like an animal, charges put on you so now you've got a record which will prevent you from getting a good job or "any" job after a criminal check, etc. SO WHY BE SUBJECTED TO RACIAL DISCRIMINATION IN THE COURT WHEN YOU'RE ALREADY BEING RACIALLY DISCRIMINATED AGAINST IN ALL OTHER ASPECTS OF DAILY LIVING? At least in court there should be someone MAKING SURE that there is no racial discrimination. So, yes... I agree with Judge Clay. Why would anyone be upset or angry if the judge makes a statement such as the one in question... ESPECIALLY WHEN WE ALL KNOW THAT A LOT OF RACISM EXISTS IN AND OUTSIDE OF THE COURT. Would people like it better if the judge made a statement like, "Okay, now everyone in the jury give me your verdict." ...And after receiving guilty verdicts in a variety of all-white juries re: black defendants... would it be "right" NOT to suspect some kind of foul play in how they reached their verdict... ESPECIALLY KNOWING ALL THE DAILY RACIST ACTS AGAINST BLACKS OUTSIDE OF THE COURT EVERY DAY / ALL DAY? At least, for once in our lives, can we all get a fair and just hearing in court? That's all we ask for. I guess that would be asking too much. Now the world has its "panties in a bunch" because one judge wants to regulate fairness in court if she has to be involved. Wow. I think Judge Clay is very professional and unbaised. She just knows "the deal". She knows what's real. You go... Judge Clay!!!

Posted by: Karen at July 30, 2005 11:01 AM (D1DPC)

4 Considering the history of this great nation, all white juries and the KKK, the oldest known domestic terrorist group in the country, should have been outlawed decades ago. Alas, some things never change.

Posted by: Pamela A. Hairston at August 02, 2005 08:43 AM (i/dPz)

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