The Dallas Morning News this week is publishing the results of a two-year investigation into racial jury rigging in the city’s courts. Its key findings: Dallas County prosecutors excluded black jurors at more than twice the rate they rejected whites, and defense attorneys excluded whites at more than three times the rate they rejected blacks.
The paper reports that prosecutors maintain a confidential, taxpayer-funded database as they decide which people to accept or reject for service. If you’ve ever acquitted a defendant while serving on a Dallas County jury, the district attorney’s office considers you a “bad” juror and is not likely to seat you again. Appeals courts and the Texas attorney general have upheld prosecutors’ right to do so and ruled that defense lawyers and the public – including former jurors – have no right to see the database. Prosecutors rate jurors as “good,” “bad” or “fair” based on whether they voted to convict or gave a stiff sentence.