Who's to Blame When a Black Man's Jury Is Nearly All White? Maybe You

I judge you. You judge me. We do it all the time.Except when it comes to jury duty.Then, many people don’t want to sit in judgment. It makes them uncomfortable. They want someone else to make the tough calls and take responsibility for punishing that person.I've written about crime and trials in Dallas County for nearly 20 years. I've watched a man and a woman die in Texas' execution chamber. I've covered so many murder trials, I can't recall them all. I was shocked when I was picked for the trial of Brandon Gordy, who was accused of murdering his girlfriend’s 4-year-old son. Attorneys and judges had told me I would never serve because I know many attorneys and judges and know too much about how the courthouse works behind the scenes. I knew four of the lawyers working on Gordy's case.But it turned out the attorneys needed me because too many Dallas County residents won’t serve.Only 18 percent of the people who are called for jury duty in Dallas County show up, one of Gordy’s defense attorneys, Elizabeth Berry, told us during jury selection. And many of those who do appear try and get out of it.Gordy’s jury of his peers was mostly white and seemed to be middle class. Gordy is black and, when he was employed, worked at Burger King and a Snap Kitchen warehouse. He earned a GED. None of the 12 jurors chosen was black. Ten were white and two were Hispanic. Eight were men.I was one of 76 jurors who were assigned to the courtroom of state District Judge Lela Lawrence Mays. She took the bench in January, and this was her first capital murder trial. She’s the only one of the county’s 17 felony court judges I’ve never spoken to or written about.  Continue reading...

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