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Colin Witcher of Chambers’ Crime and Regulatory Team travels to Seattle on the 22nd February 2017 to present a keynote address at the 30th anniversary celebrations of the Hon. Robert J. Bryan American Inn of Court. Whilst there Colin shall also be the guest of local Judges and lawyers, and will observe Court proceedings in addition to receiving warm hospitality from Members of the Inn.
2017 marks the 30 year anniversary of the United States Supreme Court case Batson v. Kentucky 476 U.S. 79 (1986), which held that racial discrimination in the selection of jurors not only deprives the accused of important rights during a trial, but also is devastating to the community at large because it undermines public confidence in the fairness of the system of justice. It is that decision and the racial composition of juries that forms the subject of the Anniversary Lecture of the Hon. Robert J. Bryan American Inn of Court.
In contrast to the selection process for American juries, Colin shall present a short paper on the selection of jurors in England and Wales outlining the Court’s approach to concerns as to racial composition. To that end, it has been suggested that there should be a principle that the jury consists partly or wholly of members of the same ethnicity as the defendant. However, it is thought that such a principle cannot be correct, for it would depend on an underlying premise that jurors of a particular racial origin or holding particular religious beliefs are incapable of giving an impartial verdict in accordance with the evidence. Accordingly, the law provides that “fairness” is achieved by the principle of random selection of juries.
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