Jury Selection: Bringing Racial Injustice into the Conversation with Potential Jurors
Webinar Faculty: Andre Vitale, Special Assistant Public Defender, Training Director, Monroe County Public Defender's Office (Rochester, NY)
March 31, 2017 at 12:30 eastern (90 minutes)
About the Webinar: As Public Defense Lawyers we are first hand witnesses to the Racism that exists in criminal law from the way the police treat the people we represent; to the way Prosecutors handle cases; to the ways Juries decide on guilt vs. innocence; to the sentences handed down by Judges. Yet many lawyers feel uncomfortable or simply do not discuss racial issues with potential jurors even when race is an obvious factor in the case. As a result, we never know what biases our jurors may have. Criminal Defense lawyers have an ethical obligation to discuss race during jury selection. We must ask questions that are focused on both educating the jury about racial issues as well as discovering the biases of prospective jurors. This presentation will discuss the importance of creating an open conversation about the race during jury selection. We will discuss different approaches to address these issues and the types of questions that will help you learn about the potential jurors outward or implicit biases, which if left unexposed could harm your client's chances of being successful at trial.
About the Faculty: Andre Vitale serves as a trial lawyer and Training Director. He has created new and innovative programs designed to help attorneys develop legal skills; confidence in their abilities; and inspire lawyers to serve as client–centered, relentless advocates. He has developed programs designed for new attorneys as they start their careers as public defenders, as well as advanced trial skills programs for more experienced lawyers. In the past two years he has assisted the Montana Office of the State Defender and the Missouri State Public Defender’s Office in developing a Defending a Child Sex Case to train attorneys in their state. As a trial lawyer, Andre carries a full caseload representing individuals charged with Violent Felonies and Major Drug Crimes. He has significant trial experience having litigated more than 90 jury trials, developing an expertise in defending sex cases and challenging DNA evidence. Andre is on the faculty of Gideon’s Promise (gideonspromise.org); the Bronx Defenders Trial Academy; the Louisiana Public Defender Training Institute; the Litigation and Persuasion Institute (Department of Public Advocacy, Kentucky); the King County Public Defender (Seattle, WA) Litigation Training Academy; Harvard Law School’s Criminal Justice Institute Trial Advocacy Workshop, the Trial Litigation Institute (New Jersey State Defender); the ADC Trial Advocacy Program (Colorado State Defender), and Legal Aid Society’s (NYC) DNA Defense College. He is both a presenter and frequent blog contributor for the National Association for Public Defense (publicdefenders.us). Andre is a Board Member of the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NYSACDL), where serves as the Chair of the Indigent Defense Committee as well as a member of the CLE Committee. He also serves as a member of the Indigent Defense Committee for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and the Racial Justice Committee for NAPD. Due to his passion and commitment to client–centered representation, Andre has received the Kevin Andersen Award by the New York State Defender’s Association (NYSDA) and the Denison Ray Award by the New York State Bar Association. In addition to his legal accomplishments, Andre has finished eighteen marathons.