Monday, January 30, 2006

Suspect: jury system unfair with fewer blacks in New Orleans area

Associated Press:

A suspect in a federal drug case failed to persuade a judge that the post-Katrina jury pool violates his rights because too many black people have left the region.

Mervin Spencer, 40, of New Orleans faces allegations that he twice sold crack cocaine to undercover state troopers in May 2004.

Spencer's attorney, John Craft, argued that the hurricane forced black people from the area, leaving disproportionate numbers of blacks on the registered voter rolls, the source for prospective jurors. The U.S. District Court draws jurors from 13 parishes, including Orleans and Jefferson.

Chief Judge Ginger Berrigan flatly dismissed the argument, which has arisen in several cases on the federal docket but had not yet been ruled upon by a judge. "Any underrepresentation, if it exists, was caused by natural disaster and not by any systematic flaw in the jury plan," Berrigan ruled in an order released Thursday.

Spencer, who is black, wanted the court to modify the jury selection system in light of the post-hurricane demographics, and order the jury commission to find the displaced people and arrange for anyone selected to come to New Orleans for jury duty.

"You're entitled to a jury that reflects the community you live in," said Craft, a federal public defender. "Members of the community are out of town but they're still members of the community. It's an obvious issue that has to be addressed."

Man says jury pool makeup unfair


At 9:49 PM, Anonymous Nick T said...

I thought Johnny Cochran was dead!I guess his legacy lives on--a black jury would not convict a N3245R,if he was caught with his hand in the coconut.And the fact that most of the worst criminal element has fled to Houston,Atlanta,Jacksonville,etc.,means that he can't be judged by his "peers".When is CWII going to start,I'm getting old!


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