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Discrimination In Jury Selection

Jon Allison

Jon Allison’s Monday Blog
Last week the Supreme Court heard arguments in Foster v. Chatman.  Tim Foster, an African-American male, was tried, convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of a white victim.  The Supreme Court is considering whether prosecutors engaged in race discrimination by using their peremptory strikes to exclude African-American jurors and then arguing to the all-white jury that the death penalty was appropriate to deter other people from the projects from doing the same thing.
There are rules for jury selection.  Prospective jurors are generally questioned by lawyers for the prosecution and the defense.  The Judge then removes some jurors if there is some reason those potential jurors can’t serve.  The lawyers then have an opportunity to use “peremptory strikes” to eliminate jurors without a stated reason.  Jurors cannot be struck due to race or gender.  Following the Batson v. Kentucky case in 1986, if the defense could show a racial pattern in peremptory strikes by the prosecution, the potential jurors would not be eliminated unless the prosecution could articulate a nonracial reason for the strike.  The problem is courts have been all too willing to accept the reasons articulated even where it appears race is the real reason.
Studies from numerous jurisdictions have shown that African-American jurors are significantly more likely to be eliminated from the jury.  Studies also show that racially diverse juries are less likely to convict and less likely to impose the death penalty.  In the Foster trial, the prosecutor used peremptory strikes to exclude all four qualified African-American jurors.  The defense complained but the prosecutor articulated nonracial reasons and the court accepted them.
In 2006, 19 years after the trial, the defense obtained the prosecutor’s notes.  There was much to suggest race was the real reason for the peremptory strikes.  The names of the African-American prospective jurors were marked with a “B” and highlighted in green.  There was a key that said green highlighting meant black juror.  The prosecution created strike lists where striking all of the African-American prospective jurors was prioritized over any white prospective juror.  The African-American jurors were ranked and there were notes that saying “if it comes down to having to pick one of the black jurors [she] might be ok.”
For more on this topic, see . . .
United States Supreme Court to Consider SCHR Death
Supreme Court Takes On Racial Discrimination In Jury
Supreme Court to examine racial divide in jury selection
The Supreme Court Considers Race-Based ‘Strikes’ Again

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New Study Shows Age Discrimination Has Greater Impact On Female Applicants

Jon Allison

Jon Allison’s Monday Blog
I blogged about age discrimination a couple of times last month.  Last week, the Washington Post reported that a new study shows age discrimination in hiring has a greater impact on women than men.  The study is probably the largest field experiment ever testing age discrimination in the hiring process.  According to the study, resumes of older women get far fewer callbacks than those of older men as well as all younger applicants.  The researchers sent out over 40,000 resumes.  The researchers studied different job categories, including administrative, sales, janitorial and security.  Overall, the study showed a strong bias against hiring older workers.  But the researchers observed that when they focused in on older female applicants, there was greater disparity.  For example, for administrative jobs, female applicants 49 to 51 years of age got 29 percent fewer callbacks than those age 29 to 31.  Applicants age 64 to 66 got 47 percent fewer callbacks.  Similar results were found for sales jobs.  The researchers note that women tend to live longer on average than men and therefore may benefit from staying in the workforce longer than men.  This won’t help.

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The Growing Problem of Age Discrimination

Jon Allison

Jon Allison’s Monday Blog
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about college professors and their reluctance to retire.  They are, of course, in the position of being able to choose to stay on because those who have tenure can’t be terminated unless there is cause to do so.  Even Professor Marcy, the Astronomer who resigned after pressure from colleagues following a sexual harassment investigation, wasn’t fired.
The majority of us do not have the job security of college professors and many older workers are experiencing age discrimination.  Take the example of Leslye Evans-Lane.  She left her teaching job in New Mexico when she was 58 because she and her husband were moving to Oregon.  She assumed that with her extensive experience she’d find work.  Instead, it took 2 years to find a part-time teaching gig.  Then, after six months on the job, the position became full-time and she was terminated and replaced with a younger teacher.  She wasn’t even interviewed for the full-time position.
According to AARP two-thirds of workers age 45 to 74 say they have experienced or witnessed age discrimination.  It’s not likely to get better.  There are a lot of baby boomers and people are living longer.  Many older workers are reluctant to retire due in part to concerns over having enough in savings to last as well as simply wanting to work.  Employers on the other hand have concerns about job performance decreasing with age, although research does not support those concerns.  It’s also less expensive to employ younger workers.  This article goes in to more detail.

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UC Berkeley Buries Harassment: Colleagues Force Professor Out

Jon Allison

Jon Allison’s Monday Blog

Astronomer Geoffrey Marcy, a leader in the search for life on other planets, resigned last week from the University of California, Berkeley, following an investigation into sexual harassment allegations. However, he was not asked to resign by the University. Far from it. The University had conducted a six-month investigation of Marcy’s conduct and determined that Marcy had routinely violated the University’s sexual harassment policies over a 10 year period. Marcy was found to have engaged in unwelcome kissing, groping, and massages of at least 4 students over the years. The University wanted to keep it quiet. After wrapping up the investigation in June, rather than discipline Marcy, the University told him to be on his best behavior or he might be disciplined in the future.

After learning of the findings months later, faculty at Berkeley were concerned that the University was sending a message that there were no consequences for such conduct and that the University’s handling of the situation would encourage rather than discourage similar behavior from others. 24 faculty members in the department of astronomy signed off on a letter saying they did not believe Marcy could continue to perform his job as a faculty member. A couple of days later, Marcy resigned. Marcy was the head of a $100 million dollar project searching for evidence of life on other planets and was considered a possible candidate for the Nobel Prize.

Does UC Berkeley Astronomer Marcy’s Downfall Signal Shift in Attitudes Over Sexual Harassment?

Did UC Berkeley Turn a Blind Eye to Harassment?

Geoffrey Marcy’s Berkeley Astronomy Colleagues Call for His Dismissal

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Jon Allison’s Monday Blog

Jon Allison

Resistant To Retirement

Last week NPR ran a story titled “On Campus, Older Faculty Keep On Keepin’ On.”  If they have the option, many just aren’t ready to retire in their sixties.
Faculty who have achieved tenure cannot be terminated without cause and there is no mandatory retirement age.  One study found that sixty percent of faculty planned to work past age seventy and fifteen percent planned to work past age eighty.  Ninety percent of faculty who planned to work past the typical retirement age reported it was because they loved their jobs, while more than forty percent reported that one reason was concerns over financial security.  Currently, one third of faculty are age fifty-five and older compared to twenty percent of the rest of the workforce.
Universities don’t necessarily want tenured faculty hanging around so long.  When older faculty leave universities can replace them with cheaper, part-time and adjunct-instructors.  In fact, the percentage of faculty who are part time has climbed from twenty-two percent in 1969 to sixty-seven percent today.
Universities offer buyouts to encourage older faculty to leave, but often there is little interest.  Recently faculty at Hofstra University’s Law School were offered two years of salary to leave and no one accepted.  At Nebraska, only seventy-nine out of two hundred forty-five eligible faculty accepted a one year salary buyout in 2010.
The NPR story is here . . .

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