The pandemic has impacted virtually every aspect of our lives – and in many unforeseeable ways. Since vaccines have become readily available across the country, schools, hospitals and employers have had to grapple with the question of whether to impose a vaccine mandate. This issue has reached courtrooms, too – with implications that you may not expect.
The 6th Amendment entitles any of us to trial by an impartial jury. A jury is meant to be an accurate representation of the population of any given community. However, by restricting a jury to only a pool of the vaccinated, are we skewing the sampling of the population we’re calling to serve their civic duty? Some worry that the answer may be “yes.”
As a whole, the vaccinated vs. unvaccinated populations across the country tend to have certain traits in common. Vaccinated people are often older, female, white, politically left leaning, higher educated and in a higher income bracket.
Some experts speculate that eliminating people from other demographics from the juror pool could have an impact on the outcomes in a trial. They contend that unvaccinated people tend to hold stronger anti-government and anti-corporation sentiments. In cases involving corporate crimes, an all-vaccinated jury may be more sympathetic to a white-collar defendant than an unvaccinated jury would.
Case in point
The high-profile Theranos trial that’s currently underway – in which a former CEO is on trial for charges related to wire fraud – is one such example. In this case, the U.S. district judge has opted to excuse all unvaccinated jurors for the sake of health and safety in the courtroom. It will be interesting to see whether this and other white-collar cases tend to skew more often in favor of the defendant, when jury vaccine requirements are in place.