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Unpublished Paper
Accessing Jury Selection Data in Pre-Digital Era
  • Liz McCurry Johnson, Wake Forest University
Who should care more about who jury members are – the criminal defendant facing one
or the public who is the watchful eyes over the government prosecutions? The answer is
both, and equally. This Article is part of a series of papers that fill a substantial gap in the
literature of jury selection by providing a positive, personal account with field data on
how litigates pick a jury – the building of a robust and immense data set of jury selections
for felony charges disposed of by jury verdict. One reason that litigates and scholars
have not previously marshaled a clear understanding of jury selection realities is that the
data has been surprisingly amorphous. A series of obstacles - legal, technological,
organizational – meet at a crosshair to block researchers and obscure careful analysis.
This Article describes the surprising challenges that scholars face from courthouse
failings in office policies to the ongoing use of out-of-date technology and litigation that
flies in the face of open access. It further explains novel research techniques innovated to
meet those challenges and reflects on why it might be that our government generally lets
this particular public record information go dormant. Public records that will soon be
exposed, per a recent March 2017 Report by the Technology Sub-Comm. of the Comm.
on the Administration of Law and Justice, convened by N.C. Supreme Court Justice,
Mark Martin.
While most hold the decisions made within the courtroom in the highest regard, very
little is actually known of the jury selection process. Theories and best practices engulf
the academy and practicing bar, but only those entrenched in the courthouse can answer
who is actually seated and who is excluded. The robust literature and academic
discussions on the normative aspect of jury selection neglect these key empirical issues
that government public records should be able to answer. An answer, the data, is key to
the public trust of the government bodies, such as the judicial system, to open for
inspection the decisions that are easily disposed of. This Article blazes the trail of data
collection in jury selection.
Publication Date
Citation Information
Liz McCurry Johnson. "Accessing Jury Selection Data in Pre-Digital Era" (2017)
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