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County seeks fair jurors, regardless of race

Tuesday, August 16, 2005
Chicago Sun-Times
by Richard A. Devine, Cook County state's attorney
Letter to the Editor

Chicago -- In the letter to the editor "Juries of color" (Voice of the people, Aug. 4), Randolph Stone, a clinical professor of law at the Legal Aid Clinic at the University of Chicago Law School, accuses the state's attorney's office of a "long and sordid history of excluding jurors of color in criminal cases."

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Since I became state's attorney in December 1996, the appellate court has cited our office with a total of two "Batson" violations for excluding minorities from juries. Since we have selected more than 3,700 juries in that period, that figure represents .0005 percent of the felony jury trials we have conducted since I have been state's attorney.

In the decade prior to that and since the Batson ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, there were nine other Batson violations out of more than 4,120 juries, again a small percentage (.002).

Stone states that many of the defendants in criminal cases are minorities. What he neglects to say is that many of the victims are also minorities.

We adhere to the law in jury selection and look for jurors who can be fair and responsible in their deliberations, regardless of their race.

It is perhaps understandable for Stone to come to the defense of Circuit Judge Evelyn Clay, but it is reprehensible for him to tar this office with a racist brush on an issue where the facts do not support the claim.


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