African-Americans are routinely underrepresented among prospective Wayne County, Mich., jurors, prompting concern that courts may be accused of denying defendants a fair trial, reports the Detroit News. About 42 percent of Wayne County residents are black, but only 27 percent of the jurors who report for jury duty are black, the court found in an ongoing voluntary demographic survey that started in March 2004.
Wayne County’s chief judge, Mary Beth Kelly, has asked for help from the State Court Administrator’s Office to address the jury problem. The state hired G. Thomas Munsterman, director of the Center for Jury Studies at the National Center for State Courts, to help analyze the lack of minorities and improve diversity. Wayne County includes Detroit, with one of the highest percentages of black residents among the nation’s largest cities, at 81.6 percent. It’s the second time in a decade that Michigan’s largest county is trying to improve the demographic mix of jurors.