On Tuesday February 9th, San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi was joined by Karen Jo Koonan, National Jury Project and private defense attorneys to speak out against Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to slash the number of peremptory challenges in misdemeanor trials from 10 to 6.

Peremptory challenges allow attorneys to remove potential jurors without stating a reason and are a critical tool for both prosecutors and defense attorneys to build a jury that represents a diversity of viewpoints and is free of bias. These challenges are most often used to remove potential jurors who attorneys suspect, but cannot prove, are prejudiced.

The governor and the Judicial Council claim cutting peremptory challenges will improve court efficiency, which is unstudied and unproven. Trial attorneys say hobbling the ability to shape diverse, unbiased juries will disproportionately hurt African American and Latino defendants. At a time when the nation is focusing on racism in our criminal justice system, this proposal is a step backwards.

This opposition took place during a hearing of the Judicial Council’s Commission on the Future of California’s Court System located in the State of California Building, Malcolm M. Lucas Board Room at 455 Golden Gate Avenue, San Francisco.