June 01, 2021 | 96 Wash. L. Rev. 613
Anna OffitAbstract: The American jury system holds the promise of bringing commonsense ideas about justice to the enforcement of the law. But its democratizing effect cannot be realized if a segment of the population faces systematic exclusion based on income or wealth. The problem of unequal access to jury service based on socio-economic disparities is a longstanding yet under-studied problem—and one which the uneven fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic only exacerbated. Like race- and sex-based jury discrimination during the peremptory challenge phase of jury selection, the routine dismissal of citizens who face economic hardship excludes not only people but also the diversity of ideas, experiences, and frames of interpretation that characterize the American population. By failing to make sure that people who are poor can serve, we impoverish our shared understanding of doing justice.
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