On October 8, 2015,  The UDC Law chapter of the National Lawyer’s Guild, along with other co-sponsoring student organizations, will host a panel discussion and Twitter Town Hall meeting to promote the hashtag: #BlackJuriesMatter. 

The purpose of the jury is to be a buffer against injustice.  However, in the past year, there have been multiple non-indictments and acquittals of police officers involved in the killings of numerous unarmed African-American men, women, and children.  All over the country, people have responded with outrage and shock.  According to UDC Law Professor Andrew Ferguson, “The jury in America has always been entangled with race.  Black juries have always mattered and have been central to the fight for equal rights.  Issues of legitimacy, accountability, fairness, and ultimately justice are bound up in who sits in judgement.”

This panel will call attention to the ubiquity of  disparate juror representation.  Some of this inequity is due to systematic discrimination practices and other reasons, however, the thrust of this discussion will be to encourage enthusiastic juror participation by those who are summoned for jury duty.  Too often, the loss of faith in the criminal justice system within the Black community leads to a reluctance to participate in jury duty.  This can take the shape of ignoring the jury summons altogether, or responding and exaggerating reasons to be excused.  In fact, too often, jury duty is seen by those of all demographic backgrounds as a burden rather than a responsibility and opportunity to effect justice.  This panel and Twitter Town Hall will attempt to highlight the reasons why jury duty is of paramount importance with respect to the pursuit of justice in the courts.

The panel will feature veteran trial attorneys from Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD, including: Mani Golzari of the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia; Jason Downs of Murphy, Falcon & Murphy; Brandi Harden of Harden & Pinckney, PLLC; and Tamar Meekins, Deputy Attorney General for Public Safety (Washington, DC).

In order to participate in the Twitter discussion, use #BlackJuriesMatter and follow @UDCNLG.