O.J. Simpson is set to stand trial, but this time the jury is all white (“So it’s all right,” says Chris Rock).
But let’s dig beyond identity politics for a moment.
Over at Deliberations they’ve posted a study that looks at jury issues based on jurisdiction, instead of ethnic origin. The study compares juries from urban districts to suburban ones. One can argue that splitting jury pools in this way is “code” for making a black-white distinction, but once the jurisdiction is picked it becomes harder to voir dire yourself into a conviction/acquittal.
The study finds urban juries to be “softer” on crime than suburban juries. D’uh. What is interesting is why there is this split.
Apparently, urban juries don’t trust the police, while suburban juries do.
Isn’t this a point that makes a lot of sense? Regardless of your race, if you live in a big city most of your interaction with the police involves them hassling you, your friends, and your rights. A tourist breathes a sigh of relief when they are walking down a dark alley and a patrol car rolls by. A city dweller avoids the stupid alley altogether, unless they are doing something that requires the privacy of dark, dank urban escapes.
Tempting fate after the break.
The safety of cities is in numbers. There are bad people out there who potentially wish to make me a victim, but when I profile a bad-guy, I’m not thinking “where are the cops,” I’m thinking “where are the cabs.”
I understand that without police officers urban living would quickly devolve into a Hobbesian hell. I’m grateful that they are around, respect their work and courage, and am thankful that so many of them do such a good job. But viscerally, I don’t need to see one to feel “safe.” Times Square at midnight gets better light than my apartment at noon, that makes me feel safe.
In the ‘burbs, it is a completely different story. It’s dark and quiet and there is nowhere to run. One feels directly tied to the umbrella of police protection that secures your property and your person. In the city you can be a card carrying member of the ACLU. In the suburbs that same person probably bakes cookies for the local PBA.
There are a lot of interesting jury factoids that this study reveals. But where you stand on police officers sounds like a stealth factor that, while not outcome determinative, is a lot more important than it appears on first blush.
Anyone want to give me odds on the likelihood that I will be the victim of a violent crime tomorrow as a divine punishment for this post? I’ll open the line at 6 to 1.
The City Jury And The Country Jury [Deliberations]