Chopra Koonan

Seating an Impartial Jury: How Social Science Research Can Help

I want to thank CELA’s Diversity Outreach Committee for inviting me to speak today and to Jean Hyams who recommended me.  Started in 2008, the Committee’s focus is to promote and increase diversity in CELA as well as the legal profession. I trust that you are all here at today’s luncheon because you believe and are committed to promoting diversity.  Or maybe it’s because of the free lunch.  

I want to talk to you today about what I believe to be the biggest civil rights challenge of our times – implicit bias.  The deaths of unarmed black men by white police officers in recent years has sparked national outcry and a much needed dialogue on race, unconscious bias, and the justice system.  But that dialogue is equally necessary in the employment context.  Because for black men and other disenfranchised groups, lack of opportunity, dignity and respect in the workplace over time can inflict harm.