Dear Editor: I am a concerned resident of Rockdale County who feels it is about time that someone other than myself who challenged the disparity of the jury pool publicly back in 2010 in a very sensitive prejudicial case should show concern. A young black man’s peers consisted of an all white jury with the exception of one Hispanic. The unbalanced jury pool and juries are a far cry from being a revelation. It has been a fact for longer than anyone will acknowledge because of the oppression of minority groups within this county.
The "system" so to speak is so deeply imbedded with its way of doing things that it is amazing that it has been permitted to even function properly. Having an inquisitive mind and a concern for all citizens of our county, I share reservations on "properly." One example of non-transparency is the Jury Commission (which helps oversee the jury pool selection).
1) How does the Jury Commission get to be the Jury Commission? Are they voted in, or are they appointed?
2) Is there "disparity" among the commission?
3) Is this commission made up of all the ethnic groups represented within Rockdale County and if not, why not?
What guarantees are documented to insure the citizens of Rockdale County of these Constitutional rights?
The District Attorney stated in a recent local article "…that unless defendants are willing to waive the current jury pool disparity issue, the state has held off in prosecution until the issue is resolved."
My question here would be, is it going to be mandated that when a defendant first appears in front of his or her "jury of his/her peers" that all defendants be made aware of this disparity issue and have the right to request and be granted a new jury because of these issues?
The deliberations of the Jury Commission are apparently not open to the public. The question should be what are the "powers to be" afraid of by holding a closed meeting. Do you not think that the concerned citizens of Rockdale County be allowed to sit in on the deliberations and see what is actually being done to rectify this major issue?
Is the above (excluding the public) a standard procedure implemented by the governing bodies? If the answer is "Yes," the remaining question is "Why?"