Modeling Spatial Dimensions of Pre-Trial Jury Selection Bias

Jerry Ratcliffe, Temple University

The issue of racial representation on jury panels has received increasing attention over the last twenty years in the United States. A number of studies have examined the courtroom selection procedures at the point of trial, though the issue of representation equality prior to approval to the voting panel has been less documented. Many jury selection committees across the country have introduced measures in an attempt to arrange for a representative sample of their population to be available for jury service with varying degrees of success. While many procedures employed seek a representative sample at the point of mailing - the point where a member of the public is informed that they are required for jury duty - there are a number of factors that impact on the likelihood that an individual will be eventually approved for jury service at the court. By examining over 270,000 jury selection records for the City of Philadelphia over a one year period with a Geographical Information System, this paper will explain some of the spatial dimensions of the pre-trial jury selection process. In a city such as Philadelphia, where spatial divisions are often translated into racial divides, the issue of jury representation can be explored in geographical context. Location Quotients are used to measure the impact of the problems encountered.

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Updated 05/20/2006