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Jury selection and representation: a jury composition study of Charlotte-Mecklenburg County, North Carolina from 1976-77 compared to 1980-81

By Norman Smith

Abstract

The main objective of this thesis theme is to examine a facet of the political science discipline, viz., judicial process and its relationship to the trial by jury concept, i.e., jury selection and representation in a particular locale. Thus, the locus for this intricate project will be a jury composition study of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg County, North Carolina jury pool for two biennium periods, 1976-77 and 1980-81, at the Twenty-Sixth Judicial District for the State of North Carolina. That is, to compare the socio-demographic characteristics of the total population of Charlotte-Mecklenburg to those persons who served in the jury pool in Charlotte-Mecklenburg for the years, 1976-77 and 1980-81, to evaluate fair and equitable jury representation. The method and technique(s) employed to accomplish the objective of the thesis theme can be comparmentalized into two parts, viz., empirical and non-empirical. In the latter situation, the information will be of a secondary nature and discerned from a content analysis approach. In the empirical phase, data was collected from a jury composition study and survey sampling methodology. And, of course, the data was analyzed by way of statistical hypothesis testing and mathematical probability. The conclusion to be drawn from the empirical dimension of this study is that of eight socio-demographic variables examined in this study to determine fair jury representation, for race, for 1976-77, the alternative hypothesis of a difference was confirmed; but for 1980-81, the null hypothesis of no difference was confirmed. For gender, in both periods, the hypothesis of no difference would stand. For the other categories as income, occupation, age and education, for 1976-77, the alternative hypothesis of difference would stand. Thus, there was not wholesale underrepresentation in the jury pools of Charlotte-Mecklenburg for Bienniums 1976-77 and 1980-81. In the nonempirical phase, it has to be concluded that within all judicial territories and districts across the nation, in order to make concrete and practical the abstract idea of trial by jury in Anglo-American law, a jury selection system framework is established and regulated by constitutional and statutory enactment. In order to make this scheme workable, source(s) or list of eligible persons is sine qua non to its existence; but to ensure that such source(s) reflect adequately and appropriately the community from which they are drawn, certain constitutional standards and mathematical or quantitative tools are often employed to ensure compliance. The management of public affairs is no less poignant in the judicial arena, i.e., judicial process, than, say, in the executive or legislative branches of government. For this reason alone, knowledge of jury selection processes and procedure, and, in turn, jury representation warrants serious attention as it affects and effects the citizenry at large and public policy, to bridge the gap of the ideal versus the reality

Topics: Political Science
Publisher: DigitalCommons@Robert W. Woodruff Library, Atlanta University Center
Year: 1990
OAI identifier: oai:digitalcommons.auctr.edu:dissertations-3498

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