Great to have you watching CNN STUDENT NEWS.
I'm Carl Azuz at the CNN Center.
This Tuesday, we're starting with an announcement by the U.S. Justice Department.
Yesterday, it said it was launching an investigation of the Chicago, Illinois Police Department.
The announcement came after days of protests in the city and the release of a video from October of last year.
That's when 37-year-old Police Officer Jason Van Dyke, who is white, shot and killed Laquan McDonald, a black 17- year-old.
The teenager was armed with a knife and apparently had the drug PCP in his system.
The video shows him approaching and then moving away from police officers who had guns drawn.
Officer Van Dyke eventually opened fire, shooting McDonald 16 times.
Some of the police who were there said McDonald had approached and threatened Van Dyke before the shooting.
But last month, Officer Van Dyke was charged with first degree murder.
On November 24th, the video was released to the public and protests lasted for days.
Demonstrators accused Van Dyke of using excessive force and other police of dishonesty.
City reports released last weekend indicate that what police on the scene said appears to be different than what the video shows.
They also question why it took more than a year for the city to release the video and charge Officer Van Dyke.
They demanded that the police chief and mayor resign.
In its investigation, the Justice Department is trying to determine whether Chicago police had made a habit of breaking the law or violating the U.S. Constitution.
Specifically, we will examine a number of issues related to the Chicago Police Department's use of force, including its use of deadly force, racial, ethnic and other disparities in its use of force, and its accountability mechanisms.
So, as the Justice Department investigates that, the U.S. Supreme Court is looking an issue potentially involving race.
It's about race as a factor in jury selection.
A number of studies have found that potential black jurors are struck from cases at higher rates than potential white jurors.
Article 3, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution states the trial of all crimes shall be by jury.
The Sixth Amendment states that a jury shall be impartial.
But could discrimination lie in peremptory challenges?
The idea behind jury selection is to sit a fair and impartial jury.
The reality is, that's only the judge's goal.
What most people won't tell you is that the different attorneys, they want to sit the most biased jury they can possibly find-biased towards their case.
First, the court actually has to summon jurors to the courthouse.
That sounds simple, but believe me, it isn't.
In a typical case, if a court summons, say, 300 potential jurors, they're lucky if a hundred show up.
And for the most part, the judge's main inquiry is, based on whatever your preconceived ideas are, or what you've heard about this high profile case.
Can you put all that aside and render an impartial verdict?
Now, the attorneys are certainly involved.
They can challenge jurors either for cause or using what are called peremptory challenges.
This is a challenge than an attorney can use to strike a juror for any reason at all.
But they only get a few of them. So, they have to use them wisely.
Suppose there's a juror way down the line that you want on your jury, well, you have to hold on those peremptory strikes and strikes as many jurors before that juror so you can get that jury on your panel.
An interesting point about peremptory challenges, a lawyer can use them to get rid of a potential juror for any reason, and he doesn't have to explain why, unless the other side thinks he's using it to get rid of specific races of jurors.
Everybody's got a theory on what race or gender thinks this way, what particular region thinks another way, whether rich or poor people think one way or the other.
And ultimately, it's all guess work.
Jury selection gets even more complicated in high profile cases.
Why? Because more of the jury poll may be tainted by either pre-trial publicity, or they may have actually been affected by what the defendant is alleged to have done.
So, you have to find somebody who even if they know about this case can put aside their feelings and render an impartial verdict.
So, as the high court considers race in light of peremptory strikes, or the Justice Department looks into the issue in multiple cases nationwide, you might be wondering how the U.S. public feels when it comes to race relations.
A recent poll gives us some idea.
The United States is often called the great melting pot, but it's a country that struggled with race relations throughout its history.
And still does today.
A 2015 CNN and Kaiser Family Foundation poll found about half of Americans think racism is a big a problem, one that doesn't seem to be getting better.
Two thirds had racial tensions in the United States had increased over the last decade.
More than half of Blacks said they had experienced some form of racial discrimination in their lifetimes, from being denied a job to fearing for their lives.
About a third of Whites and Hispanics reported similar experiences.
Blacks and Hispanics were also far more likely than Whites to say that they had been unfairly treated in the last month in a public place, such as a restaurant or in a store because of their race.
Segregation is still a reality as well, at work and at home.
Sixty percent of Whites said their work colleagues were all or mostly white.
And close to 70 percent of Whites said either their social circle or their neighborhood was mostly white.