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More Perfect

Object Anyway

At the trial of James Batson in 1982, the prosecution eliminated all the black jurors from the jury pool. Batson objected, setting off a complicated discussion about jury selection that would make its way all the way up to the Supreme Court. On this episode of More Perfect, the Supreme Court ruling that was supposed to prevent race-based jury selection, but may have only made the problem worse.

James Batson (L) with his mother Rose (R) (Sean Rameswaram)
Joe Gutmann with his students in the mock trial courtroom built at the back of Gutmann's classroom (Sean Rameswaram)

 

Joe Gutmann (L) and James Batson (R) sit together in Gutmann's classroom (Sean Rameswaram)

The key links:

-The prosecutor's papers highlighting black jurors from the trial of Timothy Tyrone Foster

The key voices:

- James Batson, the original plaintiff in Batson v. Kentucky
- Joe Guttman, the prosecutor in James Batson's case
- David Niehaus, lawyer at the Jefferson County Public Defender's Office
- Jeff Robinson, director for the ACLU Center for Justice
- Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative
- Stephen B. Bright, Harvey Karp Visiting Lecturer in Law at Yale Law School
- Nancy Marder, professor of law at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law

The key cases:

- 1986: Batson v. Kentucky
- 2016: Foster v. Chatman

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