Study Says Suburban Baltimore Juries More Likely To Convict


The chief prosecutor in Baltimore is disputing a report from the Abell Foundation showing that fewer criminal trials in the city result in convictions than suburban jurisdictions. The report recommends the creation of a regional jury pool, reports the Baltimore Sun. State’s Attorney Patricia Jessamy in Baltimore called the study “potentially divisive” and asked in a letter to Abell President Robert C. Embry Jr. that it “be shelved” or its recommendations reworked. Embry said Abell studied the issue of jury disparity because “the issue had been raised to us many times of whether it is difficult to convict people in the city.”

In the draft report, Shawn Flower of Choice Research Associates said she examined 293 cases from July 1, 2005, to June 30, 2006. In three suburban counties, 45 percent of defendants were convicted and 27 percent acquitted. The remaining 28 percent were convicted of some charges and acquitted of other charges. Those numbers were different in Baltimore, where 23 percent were convicted, 43 percent acquitted and 34 percent given “combination verdicts.” Flower said jurors in nearby counties are 30 times more likely than their city counterparts to convict a defendant of the most serious charge against him. Jessamy said questions the usefulness of a report about city conviction rates that does not “go behind the numbers to figure out why something is happening.” She said, “We analyze cases not from a statistical standpoint but from a realistic standpoint. We look at how we can address issues that negatively impact on outcomes, things like better training attorneys and police.”


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