58 S.M.U. L. Rev. 319 (2005)
Jury of Our Peers: An Unfulfilled Constitutional Promise

handle is hein.journals/smulr58 and id is 329 raw text is: JURY OF OUR PEERS: AN UNFULFILLED
CONSTITUTIONAL PROMISE
Robert C. Walters
Michael D. Marin
Mark Curriden*
I. INTRODUCTION
N 1940, William A. Vinson,' Sam W. Davis, and Harry W. Freeman
presented a novel legal argument to the Supreme Court of the United
States on behalf of their indigent eighteen-year-old African-Ameri-
can client convicted of rape: Juries and grand juries should accurately re-
flect the demographic makeup of the communities from which they are
chosen. The Supreme Court, unanimously agreed, holding that juries as
instruments of public justice... [should] be a body truly representative of
the community.'2
More than six decades later, the promise of a jury of our peers re-
mains largely unfulfilled in many jurisdictions throughout the country.
Recent data reveals that in two Texas jurisdictions-Dallas and Harris
counties-jury panels or jury venires are not representative of the local
communities. In both jurisdictions, less than one-fifth of the people sum-
moned to jury service ever make it to the courthouse. Among those who
do show up, Latinos,3 young adults, and lower-income hourly wage earn-
ers are significantly underrepresented when compared to their percent-
ages in the general population.
* Robert C. Walters is a trial partner in the Dallas office of Vinson & Elkins L.L.P.
where he serves on the Management Committee. His trial practice includes antitrust and
complex litigation.
Michael D. Marin is a trial partner in the Austin office of Vinson & Elkins, L.L.P. His
trial practice includes both business and tort litigation. He is the President of the Austin
Bar Association, a past-President of the Hispanic Bar Association of Austin, and is in-
volved in numerous other bar and community organizations.
Mark Curriden is a lawyer-media advisor at Vinson & Elkins L.L.P. in Dallas. He serves
on the American Jury Project of the American Bar Association and has written extensively
about the role of juries in American society. He is the author of the bestselling book,
CONTEMPT OF COURT: THE TURN-OF-THE-CENTURY LYNCHING THAT LAUNCHED 100
YEARS OF FEDERALISM (Anchor Books 2001).
The authors would also like to thank Lisa Hobbs, Anthony Miller, Christopher Popov,
and Marc Vockell for their helpful research, comments, and suggestions. The authors
would also like to thank Kathy Fischer and Lori Evans for their patience and meticulous
edits.
1. Vinson was a founding partner of Vinson & Elkins, L.L.P., the Houston-based
international law firm.
2. See Smith v. Texas, 311 U.S. 128, 130 (1940).
3. The terms Latino and Hispanic are used interchangeably herein.

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