Is it Racist?


Anonymous Harris County prosecutor AHCL, in a post that illustrates the need that she remain anonymous, wrote yesterday about African-American Jurors, Batson, and the D.A.’s Office. She said,

prosecutors are very much aware of the fact that probably every African-American member of a jury panel has been treated like crap at some point during his or her life by a member of law enforcement, or perhaps even a District Attorney’s office

and argued that

if a prosecutor is wary of an African-American potential juror, its going to be because that the prosecutor knows the lengthy history of wrongs committed against African-Americans by law enforcement. That prosecutor doesn’t want it to affect his case.

. . . therefore, the argument goes, it is appropriate, and not necessarily racist, for a prosecutor to use a peremptory challenge against a black potential juror because of his race.

How can the fact that the vast majority of black potential jurors have suffered at the hands of a concededly racist system justify excluding blacks from jury service? AHCL’s position seemed reasonable though worrisome to me at first glance, but on further reflection it’s flat-out wrong. A prosecutor has a duty to seek justice — a prosecutor can seek his idea of substantive justice (a conviction) but can’t forsake procedural justice to do so.

Regardless of the purity of the prosecutor’s intent, excluding blacks from jury service perpetuates systemic racism and that, no matter what the verdict, is unjust.

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0 responses to “Is it Racist?”

  1. Now I have to disagree that this prosecutor’s intent is pure. She wants to immunize her jury from the life experiences of black jurors? Think about the plea for “common sense” on her summation. The “common sense” of a black juror, who has been treated poorly by cops, is different than the common sense of the nice white juror who sees police, the system, etc. in a very different light.

    You can’t sanitize the jury and then claim you only want a fair trial. It’s fair because the jury is made up of a cross-section of real poeple with real experience in the community, not just the ones who are well treated by the police.

  2. Mark,
    I wasn’t trying to create an idea about appropriateness in my article. I was trying to illustrate that based on the sins of the past (that carry on to the present) that we’ve created a bad situation that now perpetuates itself. However, I’ll save my analysis of that issue for my blog.
    Um, after the Green Bay game.

  3. Anon,

    You ask an interesting question. Try again, but leave out names or sign your own. Anonymous personal attacks will not be tolerated here.

  4. AHCL,

    O how can a lawyer of conscience practice criminal law and not perpetuate the sins of the past? If only there were some way!

  5. look at the alternative ….Democrat C.O, Bradford, a man who has never tried a case and is by far the worst leader the Houston Police Department has seen. If you want a city like New Orleans vote Bradford.

  6. reality check,

    I don’t see a lawyer who has never tried a case doing much of a job of leading the Harris County DA’s office, and you are correct about his prior administrative experience. But I kinda like New Orleans; will we be able to buy frozen mixed drinks to go? That might seal the deal for me.

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