Five counties in Illinois have begun the first phase of a pilot program to increase jury diversity, Bernard Schoenburg recently wrote in The State Register-Journal. According to an Illinois State Courts E-Newsletter, the program was implemented following “a recommendation to test a new system for jury selection through a pilot program” by the Conference of Chief Circuit Judges.
According to Andy Kravetz of the Journal Star, the counties will “gather demographic on their jury pools and then use ZIP codes to ensure they get the right mix based upon population,” with the goal being to have the demographics of the state reflected in the pool of potential jurors. Schoenburg writes that the court will collect data from before and after the pilot is instituted to measure the impact of the new system. Circuit Judge John Schmidt said he “think[s] it’s important that every member in every segment of our society be represented for jury duty, to the best of the system’s ability.” Judge Steve Kouri added that under the current system “[w]e have a segment of the population who think the system is rigged, slanted, and a number of those aren’t people who are defendants” and that “[i]t’s very important that people think a verdict at trial, guilty or not guilty, is legitimate.”