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Criminal Defense From A Former Prosecutor

Prosecutor accused of racially biased jury selection

Some California residents might be aware of a case in Mississippi in which a man has been on trial six times for the same alleged murder. The case has reached the U.S. Supreme Court because the prosecutor has been accused of deliberately keeping African-Americans off the jury.

The man has spent 22 years in jail and has had three convictions dismissed. In two other trials, there was not a unanimous verdict. The U.S. Supreme Court ordered the Mississippi Supreme Court to review the sixth conviction, but the state court has rejected the claim of racial bias in jury selection. However, after the third conviction, the state court pronounced the prosecutor's decision to exclude 15 African-Americans as jurors a strong example of discrimination. He has excluded African-American jurors at a rate that is 4.5 times higher than the rate at which he did white jurors over a period of more than 25 years.

The case deals with the murder of four people at a furniture store in 1996. The accused man was a former employee, and the prosecution argues that he committed the murders in retaliation for being fired. However, the defense argues that the evidence against him is weak.

A person who is facing criminal charges may want to talk to an attorney about what to do next. The strategy may vary depending on the nature of the charges, the evidence and whether the person has any previous convictions. The person may want to go to trial in some cases while in other cases the best approach might be a plea bargain. In some cases, as in this one, an attorney might look at whether the person's rights have been violated and if the case can be dismissed.

Source: Star Tribune, "Supreme Court to hear case on racial bias in jury selection", Jeff Amy and Mark Sherman, Associated Press, March 19, 2019

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