The New Quo: A Conversation on the Fallacy of Stereotypes and the Importance of Jury Duty

"I had a particular experience my second year being a public defender. It was a trial involving a case where a client was charged with maybe two crack rocks and three pills. He didn't have a prescription for the pills, and obviously crack cocaine is an illegal substance to have. He had gone to trial before and lost on this very same case, and was sentenced to 30 years in prison. The case came back on appeal, as a result of something that's called Batson violation which tries to ensure prosecutors aren’t illegitimately removing people of color from the jury.

WWLTV: La. only one of two states where unanimous jury not needed for conviction

“Our constitution requires there should be proof beyond a reasonable doubt,” Esman said.  “If two people out of 12 are not convinced of somebody’s guilt, then by definition that is reasonable doubt.”

Orleans public defender Will Snowden said the ability to disregard the doubts of two jurors undermines justice. 

“People are having their constitutional rights violated,” he said.

Think504: Orleans Public Defender Launches Juror Project

"What if the most policed communities had more leverage in deciding the outcome of criminal cases? After three years of defending some of poorest people in New Orleans, the most incarcerated city on earth, local public defender Will Snowden launched the Juror Project; an initiative aimed to diversify jury panels in terms of race, thought, experience, socioeconomic background, and more."

Podcast: If You Can't Afford a Lawyer

"If you can’t afford a lawyer, one will be appointed to you – that’s how it’s supposed to work. But in New Orleans, Chief Public Defender Derwyn Bunton, the lawyer in charge of representing poor people accused of crimes, is saying no. His office doesn’t have enough money or time to do a good job, he says, so he’s refusing some serious cases, which is jamming up the courts and leaving hundreds of people stuck in jail with no lawyer. Bunton’s goal? To break the system in order to fix it."