Rodney King case, Batson v. Kentucky, bias, voire dire, jury selection, venue


This Essay considers the narrow question of whether, in changing venue, a court ought in principle to consider the demographic diversity of the venue. Deciding this issue require consideration of two preliminary questions: what is an impartial jury? And what role, if any, does racial diversity play in empaneling an impartial jury? The Rodney King trial raises questions about the dynamics of the jury panel, rather than the qualifications of individual jurors. After the Rodney King verdict, the Court's reasoning in the Batson line of cases seems naive for two reasons. First, the Court's faith in the ability of voire dire to remove racial bias from the jury seems overstated. Second, the Court's attention seems to be focused erroneously on the freedom from bias of individual jurors. The qualities of the panel as a whole -- apart from the qualifications of individual jurors -- are so important to accurate fact-finding that the size of the jury has been held to be essential to due process of law.

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