This symposium will address the recent Connecticut Supreme Court decision of State v. Holmes, 334 Conn. 202 (2019). The symposium will begin by discussing Connecticut jury selection practices prior to the Holmes decision and how, if at all, the Holmes decision endeavors to reduce implicitly biased pre-emptory challenges. Next, the symposium will explore the wide-reaching impact of implicit bias in jury selection on our criminal justice system; specifically, when considering democracy, equity, and justice.
Our Keynote Speaker is Professor Lauren Mclane, the author of an article being published in our spring edition. The article is titled, Our Lower Courts Must Get in “Good Trouble, Necessary Trouble,” And Desert Two Pillars of Racial Injustice — Whren v. United States and Batson v. Kentucky and explores the idea of judicial activism. She calls on the lower courts to take action against longstanding Supreme Court precedent and offers an analytical framework for them to reckon with the Court's harmful colorblindness and challenge stare decisis. She also created a podcast to discuss social justice issues (specifically race, Black Lives Matter, and our criminal justice system) with her students.
Our first panel is dedicated to the recent Holmes Decision, and moderated by Justice Maria Kahn, will discuss Connecticut jury selection practices prior to the decision and how, if at all, Holmes endeavors to reduce implicitly biased peremptory challenges. Chief Justice Robinson will discuss his perspective: why he decided the way he did for the majority and how he thinks this issue will progress, especially now that the Jury Selection Task Force he announced has provided their recommendations. Justice Mullins will discuss his concurrence, and the two elusive problems he identified with peremptory challenges: implicit bias, and voir dire that seem race neutral but have a disparate impact in practice. Chief State's Attorney Colangelo will address how and why prosecutors use peremptory challenges. Attorney Rueckert will talk about issues that arise in practice, specifically the process of weeding out implicit bias and protecting your clients as a defense attorney.
Our second and final panel will explore the wide-reaching impact of implicit bias in jury selection on our criminal justice system; specifically, how it interacts with our collective pursuit of democracy, equity, and justice. Moderated by UConn Law Professor Jamelia Morgan, this panel is broad in scope. Of our four panelists, Judge Lavine will open by discussing his concurrence at the appellate level, his tenure on the Jury Selection Task Force, and how the Batson procedure itself is damaged at the root, especially when considering the systematic exclusion of minority communities in our judicial process. UConn Law's own Professor Pandya will discuss the algorithm he created that analyzes how likely a lawyer is to strike a juror of color, and its function as a radical awareness mechanism. Professor Jane Gordon of UConn Storrs will discuss the big picture of Black activism and access to justice, and Attorney Wesley Horton will finish the panel by discussing this issue and its relation to federalism and its limits.