Rochester, N.Y. — A dozen black community leaders have joined the New York State Unified Court System’s effort to have a more diverse jury pool.
“This is indicative of what we hoped would happen, the community is taking ownership of this effort,” said Supervising Judge Craig Doran of the 7th Judicial District.
A 2011 study by the Office of Court Research found that blacks are not responding to many qualification questionnaires meaning fewer can serve as jurors. According to the study:
“These higher non-response and undeliverable rates lead to a qualified jury pool in Monroe County that is 9% black rather than 12% as predicted by census estimates. The percentage of blacks appearing for jury service is further reduced to 7.3%, largely as a result of excusals from service."
“It is troubling in that I know we can step up and be part of this system in this way,” said City Court Judge Stephen Miller
City Council members Adam McFadden, Lovely Warren, Pastor Brian White are among the group of government and community leaders recruited by the court system to spread the message of jury service in the black community.
The black leaders are featured on new “We Served” posters that will soon be posted in various offices and public places citywide.
Leaders are passing out forms so that prospective jurors can volunteer.
Those who do not comply with jury summons or fill out a questionnaire from the court system can face up a $250 dollar fine.