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International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy Queensland University of Technology 2202-8005 The International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy is an open access, blind peer-reviewed journal that publishes critical research about challenges confronting criminal justice systems around the world.  The Journal is committed to democratising quality knowledge production and dissemination. Authors retain copyright and articles are licenced via Creative Commons to make published articles more readily available and useable. There are no APCs (Article Processing Charges). Authors can submit and publish at no cost.
International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy 6 3

Blinded by the White: A Comparative Analysis of Jury Challenges on Racial Grounds


Indigenous peoples in Australia, the United States and Canada are significantly overrepresented as defendants in criminal trials and yet vastly underrepresented on juries in criminal trials. This means that all-white juries mostly determine the guilt of Indigenous defendants or white defendants responsible for harming Indigenous victims. In this article, we explore cases in which Indigenous defendants have perceived that an all-white jury’s prejudice against Indigenous people would prevent them receiving a fair trial. It focuses on Indigenous defendants (often facing charges in relation to protesting against white racism) challenging the array of all-white juries. Across these cases, Australian courts rely on formal notions of fairness in jury selection to dismiss the Indigenous defendant’s perception of bias and foreclose an inquiry into the potential prejudices of white jurors. We compare the Australian judicial ‘colour-blindness’ towards all-white juries with that of the United States and Canada. We argue that the tendency for courts in the United States and Canada to question jurors on their biases provides useful lessons for Australian judiciaries, including in relation to the impending trials of Indigenous defendants in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, accused of committing crimes in response to white racist violence. Nonetheless, across all jurisdictions where there is a challenge to the array based on racial composition, courts consistently uphold all-white juries. We suggest that the judicial view of the racial neutrality of white jury selection misapprehends the substantive biases in jury selection and the injustice perceived by defendants in having a white jury adjudicate an alleged crime that is committed in circumstances involving protest against white prejudice.

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Except where otherwise noted, content in this journal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Pages:25 to 46
Section: Articles
1 citation(s) in Scopus
3 citation(s) in Web of Science


Total Abstract Views: 2300  Total pdf Downloads: 5542

Author Biography

University of Technology Sydney
Australia Australia

Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law