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Implicit Bias and Jury Selection

In this post, we’ll briefly go over what the new bill about implicit bias in jury selection is, what the timeline is, and what implications it has for the legal field.

What is the Bill?

The Colorado bill entitled “Concerning Addressing Implicit Bias in Jury Selection in Criminal Proceeding,” has been introduced to the Colorado legislature during the 2022 Regular Session. The bill revolves around the courts and judicial proceedings, essentially letting courts and opposing counsels to object to racial or ethnic biases during jury selection.

The prime sponsors of this bill consist of two senators, Julie Gonzales and Pete Lee, and two representatives, Jennifer Bacon and Steven Woodrow.

Specifically, the bill aims to address peremptory challenges on the basis of racial or ethnic bias. In layman’s terms, peremptory challenges are a lawyer’s objection to a potential juror during jury selection. During jury selection, lawyers will ask jurors questions to determine whether they wish to have that person serve on the jury during the trial. If a lawyer does not want a certain person on the jury, they can veto that person, and they will be removed.

What is an Invalid Reason?

The bill outlines a variety of “invalid reasons” for removing a potential juror from the jury. Some of these include the juror…

  • having previous involvement with law enforcement
  • having a distrust in law enforcement or believing they racially profile
  • speaking English as a second language
  • living in a certain neighborhood

In other words, lawyers cannot have a person removed from the jury for any of the reasons listed above.

What are the Potential Implications?

Although the bill has not been passed yet, there are some significant effects of having this bill signed into law. Many juries, both on a state and federal level, have been mostly white. For example, the prominent case of Kyle Rittenhouse consisted of a nearly all white jury. So, what does this say about juries all over the United States? In short, it says that the conclusions drawn from those cases are not representative to the experiences and opinions of many Americans who are not White.

Lawyers are able to navigate around jury discrimination by asking jurors about any encounters with the police or their views towards law enforcement. If these responses are negative or show bias, the juror can be dismissed. However, if this new bill were signed into law in Colorado, then this loophole would no longer be allowed. The bill directly opposes this approach to jury selection by determining that these types of questions are not grounds to have a juror dismissed. This will significantly aid the quest to reduce racial bias in jury selection by prohibiting these types of questions from ever being asked in the first place.

If you would like to view the bill in its entirety, you can check it out here.

Need Legal Help?

Looking for legal representation? Not sure if hiring an attorney is the right thing for you? Consider reaching out to our attorneys here at the Colorado Lawyer Team for a free 30-minute consultation. With specialties in family law and criminal law, our experienced, dedicated, and hard-working attorneys may just be the representation you need! Find more information at https://CoLawTeam.com or call 970.670.0378.

Interested in learning more about the law? Check out some of our previous blog posts like Economic Stressors and Divorce and Domestic Violence Cases and Child Custody.

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