Award of Merit – “Judging Juries” (USA)

Title: Judging Juries
Runtime: 22 min
Country: USA
Director: Abby Ginzberg
Placement: Award of Merit
Competition: March, 2024

Synopsis: Many criminal defendants are forced to stand trial without a true cross section of the community on a jury. In Oakland, CA this means there are often NO Black people in the jury pool. In California, jurors are only paid $15 per day, making jury service financially impossible for many working and low-income members of the community. The film follows and spotlights the work of Brendon Woods, the Alameda County Public Defender, as he teaches, speaks and advocates for more inclusive juries across the state and the country. The film also highlights a new successful pilot program in San Francisco called Be the Jury in which jurors who could not otherwise serve due to financial hardship are paid $100 per day, resulting in juries that more accurately reflect the diversity of San Francisco.