Rochester and Courts Join Forces to Boost Minority Jury Pool

Nov 13, 2012

It's called "Jury Service Makes a Difference."

City of Rochester leaders are teaming with the local court system to ensure African Americans are fulfilling their obligation of serving on jury duty.

The community outreach initiative is a pilot program. It includes recruiting volunteers and posting fliers around Rochester to encourage residents, particularly those living in the city's poorest neighborhoods, to fill out jury questionnaires.

City Court Judge Stephen Miller says the court system works better, as a whole, when citizens do their civic duty and serve as jurors.

"The only way we can further that endeavor is to have everyone involved in the jury system because it's such a vital part of what we do as a community, which is bringing fairness to the process of determining guilt or innocence," Miller says.

Miller says it's also important for residents to trust the judicial system.

In a recent study, commissioned by Chief Judge Johnathan Lippman, African Americans are often underrepresented in the jury pool. That's because many of the summons are undeliverable in those neighborhoods.

Lippman plans to use this local campaign as a state model.