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Joette Katz to Participate in Connecticut Supreme Court Jury Task Force To Study Racial Discrimination in Jury Selection

July 1, 2020

Joette Katz will participate as part of the Connecticut Supreme Court Jury Task Force which will take a closer look at how juries are selected and rejected. As part of a recent decision, State v. Holmes, 334 Conn. 202 (2019), the court announced the Jury Selection Task Force, which was to be comprised of “relevant stakeholders in the criminal justice and civil litigation communities to study the issue of racial discrimination in the selection of juries, consider measures intended to promote the selection of diverse jury panels and to propose necessary changes, to be implemented by court rule or legislation, to the jury selection process.”

The Task Force is scheduled to convene its first meeting on Tuesday, July 14th. Joette was chosen to participate because she has been on the front lines to witness and experience discrimination and its results firsthand. She currently focuses her practice on appellate work, mediation and investigations, but she served eight years as Commissioner of the Connecticut State Department of Children and Families, working tirelessly from the outset to address unintended bias, studying the impacts of race and racism with a goal to cultivate and sustain an environment in which employees and families could feel safe to discuss the impacts of racism, power and privilege on agency practice and their personal lives. Joette began her legal career as a public defender, and in that capacity often came face to face with these issues. While serving as the Chief of Legal Services for the State of Connecticut Division of Public Defender Services, she co-authored Connecticut Criminal Caselaw Handbook: A Practitioner’s Guide (published by the Connecticut Law Tribune). She then spent nearly two decades as an Associate Justice on the Connecticut Supreme Court, where she heard approximately 2,500 cases and authored nearly 500 opinions. In addition, she served as an Administrative Judge for the State of Connecticut Appellate System and as a Judge for the Connecticut Superior Court.

Joette consistently demonstrates her long-standing commitment to supporting at-risk populations as a significant contributor to the firm’s award-winning pro bono efforts, providing legal services on behalf of the underserved and underprivileged members of the community. She did not hesitate to accept the position on the Task Force, and she will dedicate her time there to addressing the problems of implicit bias in the courtroom.

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