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Racism still thriving in jury selection in US south — study focus 06/08/2010

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Racism still thriving in jury selection in US south — study


WASHINGTON — Having an “out of wedlock child” was enough to remove a black juror from a 1998 Mississippi murder trial involving an African-American and a white victim. Since then, nothing much has changed in the old south, a study said.

When it was all over, Alvin Robinson was found guilty by a jury of 10 whites and two blacks, and sentenced to 20 years behind bars for a murder he claimed was in self defense.

Two years later, an appeals court annulled the sentence arguing that prosecutors used seven of 10 allowed peremptory strikes on prospective jurors who were black.

One of the candidates stared too long at a prosecutor, another had failed to mention she was divorced, and yet a third was declared an outsider after living in the same county for 10 years.

The appeals court found the prosecutor’s reasons far fetched, exaggerated and improbable, labeling them as racist.
But not all African-Americans in southern United States are as lucky as Robinson.

Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), a non-profit equal justice advocacy group, published a report last week showing that prosecutors from southern states continue to select juries by the color of their skin, in particular when the defendant is black.

Most of the time, the report added, the prosecutors’ decisions are upheld in courts of appeal.

“From 2005 to 2009, in cases where the death penalty has been imposed, prosecutors in Houston County, Alabama, have used peremptory strikes to remove 80 percent of the African American qualified for jury service,” the advocacy group said.... MORE    

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100608com3.html


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