The roundup of jury news this week notes that a couple famous faces failed to make it onto juries:
- Joe Biden got called in Delaware but was dismissed before long, though his entire pool got sent away. Nothing personal there.
- Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan also got the call, but she never made it onto a jury.
The conventional wisdom is that folks like this would never make it onto a jury, but in fact, those who serve on juries make up a more diverse cross-section of the public than most people would guess. Cases like Biden and Kagan confirm the sense that judges and attorneys don’t permit celebrities on their juries, but those cases (neither of which involve actual dismissal during voir dire) contrast with incidents like Oprah Winfrey sitting on a jury that convicted a man of murder in 2004.
In our own research on juries in King County, Washington, we were struck by how hard it was to predict who would be dismissed from jury service. Very few juror characteristics correlated with dismissal. Yes, those with more formal education were less likely to end up serving, but the differences were quite small.
Celebrity jurors do exist, and in a society that loves its celebs, it’s probably a good reminder that anyone and everyone can end up serving on juries.