It is both an honor and a duty to participate in our judicial process as a juror. Any impediment to that participation must be viewed with alarm and skepticism, as those impediments undermine bedrock principles of fairness and due process as well as a fundamental trust in the integrity of the system itself. When the State conducted a criminal background check on and subsequently arrested a qualified Black man for showing up to jury duty and honestly answering questions put to him by the trial court judge, it damaged one of the most basic protections provided to criminal defendants and adulterated a foundational belief in the ethical functioning of the system itself. In taking this most extreme action, the State rendered jury service a pretextual step towards criminalization and rendered the courthouse into a potential threat to freedom rather than a proud locus of civic engagement.

Date filed

November 30, 2020


New Jersey Supreme Court