Jury Representativeness – Part 1

Jury representativeness, the degree to which a group (e.g., African Americans) is fairly represented in the jury pool from which jurors are selected, is considered a core court performance measure. Standard 3.2, “Juries,” of the Trial Court Performance Standards -- one of six standards aligned with the performance area of “Equality, Fairness and Integrity” -- requires that trial courts do their utmost to encourage quality, fairness, and integrity by ensuring that individuals called for jury duty are representative of the population from which the jury was drawn. In the 1997 Trial Court Performance Standards and Measurement System, my colleagues and I described three measures to ascertain whether a court achieves this standard:

Measure 3.2.1 focuses on the inclusiveness of the source list. Inclusiveness is measured by comparing the number of names on the source list(s) with the number of age-eligible persons in the population of the jurisdiction. The more closely the numbers match, the better the court is performing on this measure.

Measure 3.2.2 focuses on the use of random selection procedures. This measure determines whether a court is using random processes to select prospective jurors from the juror source list(s). Data are obtained by comparing actual prospective juror panels with those that would be expected if random selection was used.

Measure 3.2.3 focuses on the representativeness of the final juror pool. Representativeness of the pool or venire of prospective jurors is measured by the degree to which those persons in the pool or panel represent, by some demographic category, the population in the jurisdiction. Typical categories are race, ethnic origin, age, gender, occupation, and education. Representativeness is the means by which courts assess the outcome of the selection, qualification, and summoning processes of the jury system.

Preference for Outcome Measures

These three performance measures parallel the developmental nature of the jury selection process—compilation of the source list, design and application of random selection procedures, and selection of the juror pool. The focus of the measures, however, is clearly on jury representativeness, considered the essential outcome highlighted by Standard 3.2. Used together, the three measures indicate not only a court’s success in achieving the fairness reflected in creating a jury pool that mirrors the population, but also the degree to which it has efficient internal processes (i.e., adequate source lists, selection processes without biases) aimed at achieving that outcome. However, using only the first two measures without the third separates the process from its desired outcome – fairness. As any jury manager knows, process outputs like source lists that cover most, if not all, of the eligible juror population and random selection procedures do not guarantee the outcome of a representative juror pool. To confuse outputs with outcomes is to mistake activity for accomplishments.

The first two measures, Measures 3.2.1 and 3.2.2 are output measures focused on the process of jury management and utilization. The same can be said about the two components of Measure 8, Effective Use of Jurors, of the CourTools – juror yield, the number of citizens available to serve as a proportion of the number called for jury duty, and, juror utilization, the rate at which prospective jurors are used at least once in trial or voir dire. Only the third measure, Measure 3.2.3, squares with the strong preference for outcome measures in the design and development of court performance measurement systems (CPMS).

Jury Representative Measure Updated

Even though jury representativeness is not included as part of Measure 8 of the CourTools, at least several courts have included it as a measure of fairness and equality in the design of their CPMS. For example, the measure, “Effective Use of Jurors,” designed by the Maricopa County Superior Court (Phoenix, Arizona) is an index composed of four elements: (1) jury representativeness – the comparative parity, expressed as a percentage, between the representation of minority groups in the population and the same groups in the final juror pool; (2) juror satisfaction -- the percent of jurors giving favorable rating's to the court's accessibility, convenience and treatment of them; (3) juror yield – the number of citizens called for jury duty who are qualified and report to serve, expressed as percentage of the total number of prospective jurors available; and (4) juror utilization – the rate at which prospective jurors are used at least once in trial or voir dire.

Maricopa’s composite measure serves as a performance indicator of the Court’s fairness and equality (by the element of juror representativeness), the satisfaction of an important category of the Court’s customers and stakeholders (juror satisfaction), as well as an indicator of the effectiveness and efficiency of the Court’s jury management and utilization (juror yield and utilization). Only the last two elements of this measure – juror yield and juror utilization – are prescribed by the CourTools Measure 8, “Effective Use of Jurors.” The Court’s design team agreed that the enhancement of this measure by the addition of the first two elements, especially juror representativeness, elevates the measure to that of a “core” mission measure in a balanced scorecard of measures.

A complete updated operational definition of jury representativeness will be included in the next posting of Made2Measure, Jury Representativeness – Part 2.

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