Caroline Kennedy Jury Ethics Questions Raised

Caroline Kennedy’s jury service raises troubling questions about how far judges should go to assure the appearance of justice. Kennedy, the 55-year-old daughter and last living child of 1960s era President John F. Kennedy, was selected Monday to serve as a juror in the trial of Nelson Chatman in the state Supreme Court in Manhattan, New York.

Chatman has been accused of selling crack cocaine, and his trial is expected to take a week.

The Associated Press actually tweeted the story with the comment: “Even the rich can’t get out of it.” I guess that’s one way to look at it. Some other media sources made much the same wisecrack.

The Daily Beast put it as, “Nobody’s safe from the clutches of jury duty.”

And I understand that the Kennedy family has a history of public service, and I don’t doubt that Caroline Kennedy wants to serve and intends to be fair.

However, some people are questioning how you can put someone on a jury with strong ties to the prosecution side.

Her famous uncle, Robert Kennedy, served as JFK’s U.S. Attorney General. While the appointment was controversial at the time and even smacked of nepotism because he was the president’s brother, he was a strong fighter against organized crime. Like his brother, he died at an assassin’s hands.

And, of course, there are more recent ties. According to The Daily News, Kennedy told Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Richard Carruthers that she had known the Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. “since I was in elementary school.”

Nevertheless, she was chosen as a juror.

Much as we all enjoy seeing rich people inconvenienced just like the rest of us, a man’s fate will be decided. Should Caroline Kennedy really be serving on a jury?

[Caroline Kennedy photo by stocklight /]