A group of judges and an ad hoc committee are looking to increase the diversity of juries in Wayne County and up the representation of Detroiters sitting in on trials, says the Detroit News. The lack of diversity consistently comes up in the region. In a district with a 20 percent minority rate, only about 11 percent of people seated are minorities, said to a report released through the U.S. District Court. “I am often disappointed when 75 people walk into that courtroom and none are of color,” said U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts.
The committee believes it has come up with strategies that will move the jury pools to be more representative of the region. Little things such as improving the accuracy of address records will help, the panel concluded. In Detroit, for example, a sample mailing yielded a 54 percent undeliverable rate as jury summons went to abandoned or foreclosed homes in many cases. Stronger language on second notice mailings and linking juror source lists with state tax filings would also improve accuracy and, therefore, diversity. A recent change eliminated jury service exemptions for those older than 70, and there was an agreeement to raise the exemptions for those older than 73.