The D.C. Court of Appeals this week announced it will sit as a full court to explore the rights criminal defendants have to inspect juror records, including whether the burden to access the confidential documents is too high.
Two men are challenging their conviction in an armed robbery case, and they claim that the Superior Court system for selecting jurors violates due process rights and infringes on the D.C. Jury System Act (2001). The defendants sought to challenge the fairness of the jury pool, but were denied access to juror records.
Lawyers for the defendants argue the Superior Court system of selecting jurors produces panels that exclude blacks, and thus do not reflect a fair cross-section of the community. The defendants, Larry Gause and Karlepa Wilkey, were convicted and imprisoned for their roles in robbing a 63-year-old man at gunpoint in 2005.
The court appointed George Washington University Law School professor Peter Meyers to argue for Wilkey. A D.C. Public Defender Service attorney, Mikel-Meredith Weidman, represented Gause. The Public Defender service took the lead in arguing for greater, easier access to jury pool records, which include the name, age, race, and occupation of qualified prospective jurors. Weidman could not be reached for comment; Meyers applauds the D.C. Court of Appeals for voting to take up the dispute as a full court.