*After an eight hour jury selection process to try a case involving two Black male defendants, a new trial was ordered by Judge Cheryl Blackburn of Davidson County Criminal Court after one of the jurors objected to the selected jury.
It is unclear who the juror was, or what his or her race was.
In an action that has been confirmed by lawyers and others present in the courtroom, the judge delayed the trial thereby bringing attention to a longtime discussion about the lack of diversity in todays jury’s.
Defense lawyers are said to have accused prosecutors of eliminating potential jurors because of their race, and the claim was denied by the state. According to a precedent under the U.S. Supreme Court, lawyers cannot excuse potential jurors only because of their race.
But I digress.
“We may need to see if we can raise this issue to make sure that you don’t just remove somebody from the jury selection process based on their race, creed or religion,” said Ludye Wallace, president of the Nashville branch of the NAACP, who only learned of the case after he was contacted by The Tennessean. “You can’t do that,” he added.
USA Today reports,
Two people who agree that race should play a role in jury selection are Mary Hamilton and Tiffany Steele. Their relatives were set for trial April 18 before the juror spoke up and forced the jury selection process to restart.
Police accused Terance Bradley, 34, and Hurley L. Brown, 21, of attacking two people during a fight July 29, 2014. Shots were fired during the fight, and two men were injured, according to an arrest affidavit.
Both men, facing charges of aggravated burglary, being felons in possession of weapons and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon have been in custody for approximately 18 months.
Both have pleaded not guilty.
Hamilton is Bradley’s grandmother. Steele is Brown’s mother.
Both prosecutor and defense are allowed to remove potential jurors, and a certain number of these removals can be made without a reason being given.
In this particular case, it was argued that the requested removal of six persons by the state, only one of whom was white and five Black, was extreme.
Reportedly, this included every black person that had been called up from the larger jury pool for questioning.
“It was disgusting. It was irritating,” Steele said.
Hamilton said she did not think it was fair for the men to face that jury, which did include minorities but no African-Americans.
“There’s still prejudice out there,” Hamilton said. “I don’t care what anyone says.”
We will keep an eye on this one, and let you know how the NEW jury looks.