Local 4 Defenders find minorities lacking in metro Detroit jury pools

U.S. attorney in Michigan says many minorities don't respond, or don't get, jury summons

DETROIT - An all new Local 4 Defenders investigation has revealed there's not enough minorities in metro Detroit's jury pools.

U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, Barbara McQuade, admits there is a shortage of minority jurors.

"There has been an underrepresentation of racial and ethnic minorities in our juries. I think that it sometimes undermines public confidence in our verdicts," she said.

The shortage was a point brought to light in the federal bid-rigging case against Detroit contractor Bobby Ferguson. The defense had argued Ferguson, who is African-American, wasn't being tried fairly with only two African-American jurors on the panel.

McQuade says notices to minorities often go unanswered, and because of financial stress, minorities have been displaced from their homes and the notices may not even reach them.

She wants to see more minorities participate.

"If you were on trial, wouldn't you want someone like you to be on your jury? We hope that message will resonate and encourage people to answer the call when they get a summons for jury duty," McQuade said.  

McQuade will be part of a town hall meeting with judges and local leaders to encourage minorities to serve jury duty and find new ways to reach them.

"There is a very high rate of people who receive a summons and simply don't show up to court to do their jury duty," McQuade said. "We really want to raise awareness of the need to do that and the importance of trying to encourage people to answer the call."

READ: Jury Diversity program

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