A PRE-EMPTIVE STRIKE FROM THE DA’S OFFICE

This email is circulating in Dallas legal circles:

The Dallas Morning News may soon print an article concerning the Dallas County District Attorney’s office’s use of peremptory strikes of jurors. It is my understanding that the article concludes that our prosecutors these strikes to exclude minority jurors (an absolutely absurd proposition).

Please read the attached memo by Bill Hill and feel free to send to anyone you know who might be interested.

The attached memo is 1,225 words long, but here are the key paragraphs, I think:

Last week, I met with editors at the Morning News, along with other administrators and consultants from our office, and explained to them the myriad problems we have with their findings.

First and foremost, in our view, their key findings neglect to mention what we consider their most significant conclusion — that our juries are nearly identical in ethnic composition to the panels from which we choose them. Certainly, this stands in stark contrast to the realities of the mid-1980s.

Second, they have misrepresented the reliability of their findings. When our statistical experts from Magellan started asking questions, they learned that three of the four key findings are not derived from the sophisticated statistical model they constructed; they are simple percentage comparisons. This type of statistic would not be accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal because it is misleading by definition in that it identifies disparities but is not sophisticated enough to pinpoint the reasons for those disparities.

During our discussions with The Dallas Morning News, our consultants gave an example of a study in which they participated regarding a police department’s racial profiling data. Percentage comparisons revealed that the number of African-Americans motorists being stopped, searched and arrested was disproportionately high compared to other groups. Upon conducting a more sophisticated analysis of several factors contributing to stops, searches, and arrests, the researchers found that the disparities were almost entirely explained by the presence of outstanding arrest warrants on African-American motorists.

We have no doubt that, if the reporters were to more thoroughly explore the reasons behind prosecution strikes, they would find significant non-racial factors that explain the disparities. However, it seems clear that they are unwilling to do this.

Parry, thrust. Now we’ll see what the News actually prints.

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