Suits Filed Against Yolo Grand Jury Dismissed

The Sacramento Bee reports this morning that a Federal Judge threw out a lawsuit challenging the recruitment and selection process for Yolo County grand juries. Former Director of the Yolo County Housing Authority David Serena had contended that the composition process of the grand jury was discriminatory against Latinos.

Toward that end, Serena and his legal team that included James Hammer and Whitney Leigh, produced statistics that showed a 13.5 percent discrepancy between expected and actual Latino composition.

U.S. District Judge Frank C. Damrell Jr. ruled that the three year time period was not long enough to demonstrate substantial underrepresentation of Latinos. Moreover, they did not have direct evidence of intent to discriminate.

Over the past 10 years, Latinos have only been underrepresented by 6.5 percent which would be equivalent of around one juror on average. This was not enough to demonstrate a violation under the Constitution’s equal protection clause.

However, Judge Damrell did say that while he could not consider solely the last three years, he did find the higher disparity in the last three years to be troubling. The Sacramento Bee quotes him as saying “Unaddressed or ignored, this continuing disparity is likely to provide future evidence of systemic underrepresentation of a constitutional dimension.”

The defendants in this case were Judges Steve Mock and Thomas Warriner along with Jury Commissioner Robin Weaver.

According to the lawsuit filed, “the lack of specific rules for grand jury selection in Yolo County has left it open to abuse.” Serena and his attorneys argued that residents of Latino decent comprise around 26 percent of the population but only 5 to 11 percent of the make up of the grand jury.

While the suit was dismissed, local civil rights groups can take some comfort from the ruling that Yolo County is on notice to improve their record of the racial composition of grand juries. This is a vital link between the citizenry and the justice system.

Unfortunately it appears at this time, that in order for action to be taken the situation must continue for the next few years. That is unfortunate not only for Mr. Serena who is facing criminal prosecution for his role in the Yolo County Housing Authority, but also minorities in this county who seems to have their rights violated on a regular basis through the criminal justice system.

The Judge’s ruling gives a reprieve to Judge Mock and Judge Warriner, but they will remain under scrutiny if they do not figure out ways to remedy the situation.

—Doug Paul Davis reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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37 thoughts on “Suits Filed Against Yolo Grand Jury Dismissed”

  1. Anonymous

    This a growing problem. The Latino segment of the population is growing faster than any other segment in Yolo County. Also the under 18 years old Latino population is around 45% – bigger than any other segament. It is no wonder the Judge found a problem in the last couple of years – the Latino population is growing very quickly. Accordingly, changes need to be made right away.SAH

  2. Anonymous

    This a growing problem. The Latino segment of the population is growing faster than any other segment in Yolo County. Also the under 18 years old Latino population is around 45% – bigger than any other segament. It is no wonder the Judge found a problem in the last couple of years – the Latino population is growing very quickly. Accordingly, changes need to be made right away.SAH

  3. Anonymous

    This a growing problem. The Latino segment of the population is growing faster than any other segment in Yolo County. Also the under 18 years old Latino population is around 45% – bigger than any other segament. It is no wonder the Judge found a problem in the last couple of years – the Latino population is growing very quickly. Accordingly, changes need to be made right away.SAH

  4. Anonymous

    This a growing problem. The Latino segment of the population is growing faster than any other segment in Yolo County. Also the under 18 years old Latino population is around 45% – bigger than any other segament. It is no wonder the Judge found a problem in the last couple of years – the Latino population is growing very quickly. Accordingly, changes need to be made right away.SAH

  5. pepe abogado

    “Unfortunately it appears at this time, that in order for action to be taken the situation must continue for the next few years. That is unfortunate not only for Mr. Serena who is facing criminal prosecution for his role in the Yolo County Housing Authority, but also minorities in this county who seems to have their rights violated on a regular basis through the criminal justice system.”

    Are the victims of Serena Hispanics? If so, he might be better off without so many Latinos on his jury.

  6. pepe abogado

    “Unfortunately it appears at this time, that in order for action to be taken the situation must continue for the next few years. That is unfortunate not only for Mr. Serena who is facing criminal prosecution for his role in the Yolo County Housing Authority, but also minorities in this county who seems to have their rights violated on a regular basis through the criminal justice system.”

    Are the victims of Serena Hispanics? If so, he might be better off without so many Latinos on his jury.

  7. pepe abogado

    “Unfortunately it appears at this time, that in order for action to be taken the situation must continue for the next few years. That is unfortunate not only for Mr. Serena who is facing criminal prosecution for his role in the Yolo County Housing Authority, but also minorities in this county who seems to have their rights violated on a regular basis through the criminal justice system.”

    Are the victims of Serena Hispanics? If so, he might be better off without so many Latinos on his jury.

  8. pepe abogado

    “Unfortunately it appears at this time, that in order for action to be taken the situation must continue for the next few years. That is unfortunate not only for Mr. Serena who is facing criminal prosecution for his role in the Yolo County Housing Authority, but also minorities in this county who seems to have their rights violated on a regular basis through the criminal justice system.”

    Are the victims of Serena Hispanics? If so, he might be better off without so many Latinos on his jury.

  9. Anonymous

    In order for minorities to end up on the grand jury, they first must apply. The challenge goes out to the Latinos, Hispanics, Asians, African Americans and every other minority in Yolo County – APPLY! Then, don’t be surprised when you end up on the grand jury! One wonders if any of those who are complaining have ever made the slightest effort to become a grand juror. Put your money where your mouth is.

  10. Anonymous

    In order for minorities to end up on the grand jury, they first must apply. The challenge goes out to the Latinos, Hispanics, Asians, African Americans and every other minority in Yolo County – APPLY! Then, don’t be surprised when you end up on the grand jury! One wonders if any of those who are complaining have ever made the slightest effort to become a grand juror. Put your money where your mouth is.

  11. Anonymous

    In order for minorities to end up on the grand jury, they first must apply. The challenge goes out to the Latinos, Hispanics, Asians, African Americans and every other minority in Yolo County – APPLY! Then, don’t be surprised when you end up on the grand jury! One wonders if any of those who are complaining have ever made the slightest effort to become a grand juror. Put your money where your mouth is.

  12. Anonymous

    In order for minorities to end up on the grand jury, they first must apply. The challenge goes out to the Latinos, Hispanics, Asians, African Americans and every other minority in Yolo County – APPLY! Then, don’t be surprised when you end up on the grand jury! One wonders if any of those who are complaining have ever made the slightest effort to become a grand juror. Put your money where your mouth is.

  13. TheObserver

    Once again, someone (Anonymous above) chooses the easy path of blaming the people not chosen for the grand jury.

    Perhaps more outreach is necessary on the part of the Grand Jury Commissioner and Courts. Ads in the Daily Democrat and Enterprise are simply not going to reach that community. Try advertising the openings in the local Spanish language newspaper or on Unavision or Spanish Language radio stations in the area.

  14. TheObserver

    Once again, someone (Anonymous above) chooses the easy path of blaming the people not chosen for the grand jury.

    Perhaps more outreach is necessary on the part of the Grand Jury Commissioner and Courts. Ads in the Daily Democrat and Enterprise are simply not going to reach that community. Try advertising the openings in the local Spanish language newspaper or on Unavision or Spanish Language radio stations in the area.

  15. TheObserver

    Once again, someone (Anonymous above) chooses the easy path of blaming the people not chosen for the grand jury.

    Perhaps more outreach is necessary on the part of the Grand Jury Commissioner and Courts. Ads in the Daily Democrat and Enterprise are simply not going to reach that community. Try advertising the openings in the local Spanish language newspaper or on Unavision or Spanish Language radio stations in the area.

  16. TheObserver

    Once again, someone (Anonymous above) chooses the easy path of blaming the people not chosen for the grand jury.

    Perhaps more outreach is necessary on the part of the Grand Jury Commissioner and Courts. Ads in the Daily Democrat and Enterprise are simply not going to reach that community. Try advertising the openings in the local Spanish language newspaper or on Unavision or Spanish Language radio stations in the area.

  17. TheObserver

    Once again, someone (Anonymous above) chooses the easy path of blaming the people not chosen for the grand jury.

    Perhaps more outreach is necessary on the part of the Grand Jury Commissioner and Courts. Ads in the Daily Democrat and Enterprise are simply not going to reach that community. Try advertising the openings in the local Spanish language newspaper or on Unavision or Spanish Language radio stations in the area.

  18. TheObserver

    Once again, someone (Anonymous above) chooses the easy path of blaming the people not chosen for the grand jury.

    Perhaps more outreach is necessary on the part of the Grand Jury Commissioner and Courts. Ads in the Daily Democrat and Enterprise are simply not going to reach that community. Try advertising the openings in the local Spanish language newspaper or on Unavision or Spanish Language radio stations in the area.

  19. TheObserver

    Once again, someone (Anonymous above) chooses the easy path of blaming the people not chosen for the grand jury.

    Perhaps more outreach is necessary on the part of the Grand Jury Commissioner and Courts. Ads in the Daily Democrat and Enterprise are simply not going to reach that community. Try advertising the openings in the local Spanish language newspaper or on Unavision or Spanish Language radio stations in the area.

  20. Anonymous

    It’s not a matter of “taking the easy path of blaming those not chosen”. No blame is going to those not chosen. At least if one was not chosen, they at least would have applied. To BE chosen, one must first apply. The opportunity is there. It’s not rocket science. Are people just waiting for an application to magically appear in their hand? If it did, would they send it in to volunteer? Or, could it be that there is not a huge number of people (from ANY kind of racial background) willing to put the time and energy to the time consuming job of being a grand juror?

    If a person has hopes of winning the lottery they first have to get in the car, drive to the store and purchase a ticket. It’s called taking the initiative to make an effort (to get what you seek).

    In particular, the Latino community is highly aware of the potential for under representation of Latinos (or any other group) on the grand jury. The leaders of the Latino community also have a responsibility to spread the word to get involved.

  21. Anonymous

    It’s not a matter of “taking the easy path of blaming those not chosen”. No blame is going to those not chosen. At least if one was not chosen, they at least would have applied. To BE chosen, one must first apply. The opportunity is there. It’s not rocket science. Are people just waiting for an application to magically appear in their hand? If it did, would they send it in to volunteer? Or, could it be that there is not a huge number of people (from ANY kind of racial background) willing to put the time and energy to the time consuming job of being a grand juror?

    If a person has hopes of winning the lottery they first have to get in the car, drive to the store and purchase a ticket. It’s called taking the initiative to make an effort (to get what you seek).

    In particular, the Latino community is highly aware of the potential for under representation of Latinos (or any other group) on the grand jury. The leaders of the Latino community also have a responsibility to spread the word to get involved.

  22. Anonymous

    It’s not a matter of “taking the easy path of blaming those not chosen”. No blame is going to those not chosen. At least if one was not chosen, they at least would have applied. To BE chosen, one must first apply. The opportunity is there. It’s not rocket science. Are people just waiting for an application to magically appear in their hand? If it did, would they send it in to volunteer? Or, could it be that there is not a huge number of people (from ANY kind of racial background) willing to put the time and energy to the time consuming job of being a grand juror?

    If a person has hopes of winning the lottery they first have to get in the car, drive to the store and purchase a ticket. It’s called taking the initiative to make an effort (to get what you seek).

    In particular, the Latino community is highly aware of the potential for under representation of Latinos (or any other group) on the grand jury. The leaders of the Latino community also have a responsibility to spread the word to get involved.

  23. Anonymous

    It’s not a matter of “taking the easy path of blaming those not chosen”. No blame is going to those not chosen. At least if one was not chosen, they at least would have applied. To BE chosen, one must first apply. The opportunity is there. It’s not rocket science. Are people just waiting for an application to magically appear in their hand? If it did, would they send it in to volunteer? Or, could it be that there is not a huge number of people (from ANY kind of racial background) willing to put the time and energy to the time consuming job of being a grand juror?

    If a person has hopes of winning the lottery they first have to get in the car, drive to the store and purchase a ticket. It’s called taking the initiative to make an effort (to get what you seek).

    In particular, the Latino community is highly aware of the potential for under representation of Latinos (or any other group) on the grand jury. The leaders of the Latino community also have a responsibility to spread the word to get involved.

  24. Anonymous

    It’s not a matter of “taking the easy path of blaming those not chosen”. No blame is going to those not chosen. At least if one was not chosen, they at least would have applied. To BE chosen, one must first apply. The opportunity is there. It’s not rocket science. Are people just waiting for an application to magically appear in their hand? If it did, would they send it in to volunteer? Or, could it be that there is not a huge number of people (from ANY kind of racial background) willing to put the time and energy to the time consuming job of being a grand juror?

    If a person has hopes of winning the lottery they first have to get in the car, drive to the store and purchase a ticket. It’s called taking the initiative to make an effort (to get what you seek).

    In particular, the Latino community is highly aware of the potential for under representation of Latinos (or any other group) on the grand jury. The leaders of the Latino community also have a responsibility to spread the word to get involved.

  25. Anonymous

    It’s not a matter of “taking the easy path of blaming those not chosen”. No blame is going to those not chosen. At least if one was not chosen, they at least would have applied. To BE chosen, one must first apply. The opportunity is there. It’s not rocket science. Are people just waiting for an application to magically appear in their hand? If it did, would they send it in to volunteer? Or, could it be that there is not a huge number of people (from ANY kind of racial background) willing to put the time and energy to the time consuming job of being a grand juror?

    If a person has hopes of winning the lottery they first have to get in the car, drive to the store and purchase a ticket. It’s called taking the initiative to make an effort (to get what you seek).

    In particular, the Latino community is highly aware of the potential for under representation of Latinos (or any other group) on the grand jury. The leaders of the Latino community also have a responsibility to spread the word to get involved.

  26. Anonymous

    It’s not a matter of “taking the easy path of blaming those not chosen”. No blame is going to those not chosen. At least if one was not chosen, they at least would have applied. To BE chosen, one must first apply. The opportunity is there. It’s not rocket science. Are people just waiting for an application to magically appear in their hand? If it did, would they send it in to volunteer? Or, could it be that there is not a huge number of people (from ANY kind of racial background) willing to put the time and energy to the time consuming job of being a grand juror?

    If a person has hopes of winning the lottery they first have to get in the car, drive to the store and purchase a ticket. It’s called taking the initiative to make an effort (to get what you seek).

    In particular, the Latino community is highly aware of the potential for under representation of Latinos (or any other group) on the grand jury. The leaders of the Latino community also have a responsibility to spread the word to get involved.

  27. Doug Paul Davis

    TheObserver brings up a key point. I will add though that I think most citizens are not aware of the existence let alone the function of Grand Juries. There needs to be a representative breakdown of citizens. When there isn’t you have at the very least the perception of impropriety. And that is what the judge ruled here.

  28. Doug Paul Davis

    TheObserver brings up a key point. I will add though that I think most citizens are not aware of the existence let alone the function of Grand Juries. There needs to be a representative breakdown of citizens. When there isn’t you have at the very least the perception of impropriety. And that is what the judge ruled here.

  29. Doug Paul Davis

    TheObserver brings up a key point. I will add though that I think most citizens are not aware of the existence let alone the function of Grand Juries. There needs to be a representative breakdown of citizens. When there isn’t you have at the very least the perception of impropriety. And that is what the judge ruled here.

  30. Doug Paul Davis

    TheObserver brings up a key point. I will add though that I think most citizens are not aware of the existence let alone the function of Grand Juries. There needs to be a representative breakdown of citizens. When there isn’t you have at the very least the perception of impropriety. And that is what the judge ruled here.

  31. Doug Paul Davis

    TheObserver brings up a key point. I will add though that I think most citizens are not aware of the existence let alone the function of Grand Juries. There needs to be a representative breakdown of citizens. When there isn’t you have at the very least the perception of impropriety. And that is what the judge ruled here.

  32. Doug Paul Davis

    TheObserver brings up a key point. I will add though that I think most citizens are not aware of the existence let alone the function of Grand Juries. There needs to be a representative breakdown of citizens. When there isn’t you have at the very least the perception of impropriety. And that is what the judge ruled here.

  33. Doug Paul Davis

    TheObserver brings up a key point. I will add though that I think most citizens are not aware of the existence let alone the function of Grand Juries. There needs to be a representative breakdown of citizens. When there isn’t you have at the very least the perception of impropriety. And that is what the judge ruled here.

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