The influx of well-off and educated white people to trendy neighborhoods in New York City’s Brooklyn borough is rapidly “gentrifying'' the jury pool — and transforming verdicts, lawyers and judges told the New York Post. It's good news for prosecutors in criminal cases and bad news for plaintiffs in civil lawsuits. “The jurors are becoming more like Manhattan — which is not good for defendants,'' noted veteran defense lawyer Julie Clark.
Former Brooklyn prosecutor and defense lawyer John Paul DeVerna, speaking of a trendy neighborhood called Williamsburg, said, “The 'Williamsburg Effect' affects every case that goes to trial. “A contrarian-minded person … can cause discord in the jury room. And if the hipster gets along with everyone, that can even be more dangerous because they are confident and educated, which means they have the potential to hijack the jury.” The shift also is affecting grand juries. “The grand jury used to have an anti-police sentiment. When I was a prosecutor 22 years ago, a jury would be 80 percent people of color,” said lawyer Arthur Aidala. “Now, the grand juries have more law-and-order types in there. People who can afford to live in Brooklyn now don't have the experience of police officers throwing them against cars and searching them. A person who just moves here from Wisconsin or Wyoming, they can't relate to [that]. It doesn't sound credible to them.”