Reeder & Brown, P.C.


When Your Jury is Not Comprised of “Your Peers”

Posted on June 08, 2017 in Criminal Law

Along with a criminal defendant’s right to remain silent, the right to have one’s case tried to a jury of “one’s peers” is one of the most important constitutional protections available for criminal defendants. This protection exists to help guarantee that a person is not convicted of a criminal offense through government overreach, but instead only upon evidence and testimony that convinces 12 individuals from the community of the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Juries are Supposed to Represent a Cross-Section of the Local Community

In theory, the 12 people who decide a particular Illinois criminal case are supposed to represent a “cross-section” of the community. That is, the individuals who sit on a jury to hear a particular case should represent the races, socioeconomic backgrounds, and education levels (amongst others) of average citizens in the community. If the community has a predominantly minority population, one would expect that a jury would be comprised of predominately minority individuals. This does not always happen, however.

Why Do Juries Not Always Represent the Local Community?

The first step in selecting a jury to hear a criminal case is to assemble a group or pool of individuals from which the 12 jurors can be selected. The members of this pool are usually selected randomly from lists of registered voters or those with driver’s licenses.

While this may seem like a sensible manner in which to identify members of the local community, such methods may result in a jury pool that does not reflect the makeup of the community. Given that both the defense as well as the prosecution can strike (or remove) potential jurors from consideration for a wide variety of reasons, it becomes easy to see how a jury that hears a particular case may not reflect a fair “cross-section” of the community at all.

Remedies Where Your Illinois Jury is Not Reflective of Your Community’s Makeup

Absent some evidence that the process used to identify potential jurors was designed to exclude members of a particular race, ethnicity, gender, or other protected classification, defendants generally cannot object to the manner in which potential jurors are selected. Moreover, unless it is clear that the prosecutor deliberately removed certain jurors from the jury pool because of a protected classification, it is difficult to obtain any meaningful relief because of who the prosecutor elected to remove from the jury pool.

An Illinois Criminal Defense Attorney Can Safeguard Your Rights

This illustrates (again) why having an experienced Joliet criminal defense attorney by your side at each stage of your criminal case is so important. At the Reeder & Brown, P.C., we fight hard to protect our clients’ statutory and constitutional rights, including their right to a fair and representative jury. We will promptly take appropriate actions to help ensure that the jury hearing your case is a true cross-section of your community and a jury of your peers. Call Reeder & Brown, P.C. today or reach out to our office today through our website.


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