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Democracy, Epistemology and the Problem of All‐White Juries

Journal of Applied Philosophy

Published online on


Does it matter that almost all juries in England and Wales are all‐White? Does it matter even if this result is the unintended and undesired result of otherwise acceptable ways of choosing juries? Finally, does it matter that almost all juries are all‐White if this has no adverse effect on the treatment of non‐White defendants and victims of crime? According to Cheryl Thomas, there is no injustice in a system of jury selection which predictably results in juries with no minority members so long as this result is not deliberate, and does not adversely affect the treatment of minority defendants and victims of crime. My view is different. In and of itself, I believe, something is wrong with a system of jury selection that predictably results in all‐White juries in a diverse society, such as our own. Absent reason to believe that we lack a better alternative to current modes of jury selection, a commitment to democratic government and to the equality of citizens – or so I will argue – condemns existing arrangements as unjust, whether or not they have adverse effects on jury decisions, or on the ways in which our society approaches issues of race and crime.