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9th Circ Strikes Rape Conviction – For Bias

Somehow this news from last Friday got very little coverage. It was even buried in the ‘Courts/Legal News’ section of California’s Sacramento Bee:

9th Circuit panel strikes down rape conviction, citing race bias

Published Friday, Jul. 30, 2010

A federal appeals court has struck down a conviction and life sentence of an African American man for a heinous rape eight years ago in Sacramento County, ruling that the prosecutor had no lawful reason to dismiss two African Americans from the jury pool.

Steven Frank Jackson was found guilty by a Superior Court jury of breaking into a 72-year-old white woman’s apartment and repeatedly raping her and sexually assaulting her in a number of ways.

Saliva found on her breast yielded a positive match of Jackson’s DNA, and the victim identified Jackson at the trial as her attacker in the early hours of April 29, 2002.

The jury pronounced him guilty of a multitude of sexual crimes and one count of burglary, and on Sept. 30, 2004, at age 39, Jackson was sentenced to a "three-strikes" prison term of 310 years to life. The verdict and sentence were affirmed by a state appellate court and the federal district court in Sacramento. The California Supreme Court declined review.

But both were overturned last week by a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office will ask the state attorney general’s office, which handles criminal appeals from state trial courts, to seek review by an enlarged circuit panel.

If that request is denied, or if a larger panel affirms the three judges’ ruling, it will be up to District Attorney Jan Scully whether to retry Jackson. Absent a retrial, he will go free.

In a 2 1/2-page memorandum the three judges state that the reasons the prosecutor gave for his peremptory challenges excusing the two prospective African American jurors "were not sufficient to counter the evidence of purposeful discrimination."

The 9th Circuit judges note with some indignation that "two out of three prospective African American jurors were stricken," and then declare that "the record reflected different treatment of comparably situated jurors."

"It is clearly established federal law that the equal protection clause (of the Constitution) prohibits the prosecutor from challenging prospective jurors solely on the basis of race," the panel states…

Never mind that both prosecutors and defense attorneys are given a number of ‘preemptive’ strikes, for which they are not required to give any reason whatsoever. Or, rather, that used to be the law, once upon a time in a land now very far away.

The federal appellate ruling comes from 9th Circuit Judges Mary M. Schroeder and Johnnie B. Rawlinson, and U.S. District Judge Raner C. Collins of Arizona, on assignment to the circuit. No author is indicated.

Schroeder, one of the longest-serving judges on the 9th Circuit – the highest court in the Western states – was appointed by President Jimmy Carter in 1979. She is white. Rawlinson, an African American woman, was appointed to the circuit bench in 2000 by President Bill Clinton. Collins, also an African American, was appointed to the federal court in Arizona by Clinton in 1998

Luckily, the Court Of Appeals judges made their determinations based on the facts and not on melanin content.

Responding to the trial judge’s request for his reasons, Triplett recalled that the man he excused had said that he’d been stopped uncounted times over a 14-year period by mostly white officers because of his race and age. "I have a lot of baggage" with respect to law enforcement, he had said.

When Triplett asked whether he had reported the incidents, the prospective juror said, "Seemed like it would be a waste of time." …

The African American woman excused from the jury has a master’s degree in social work and served an internship in the psychiatric ward at Sacramento County’s branch jail in Elk Grove.

"I don’t like to keep social workers," the prosecutor told the judge. "I don’t have any other social workers up on the panel. And, if I had my choice, I wouldn’t have any." …

Each of the three lower courts concluded Triplett’s reasons were acceptable when measured against legally established race-neutral standards. In addition, they all noted that one juror was African American.

How have we let our judiciary get so hopelessly out of whack? Where do we find such preposterous excuses for judges?

Unfortunately, this case probably tells us all we need to know about the prospects for Arizona’s SB1070 with the 9th Circuit.

This article was posted by Steve on Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010. Comments are currently closed.

8 Responses to “9th Circ Strikes Rape Conviction – For Bias”

  1. Petronius says:

    Although it may be in bad taste, I am constrained to point out that, had these savage crimes been inflicted by a white man on a poor 72 year-old black woman, the public outrage would have been deafening. There would have been demands for more hate crimes laws. The case would be a required lesson in every public school curriculum. We would never have heard the end of it.

    Under those circumstances, there would have been no concern about the prosecutor’s preemptory challenges to certain white jurors during voir dire. There would have been no gang of white appellate judges rushing to set aside the conviction of the white defendant due to an insufficient number of white jurors.

    However, the victim of this atrocity is not black. She is white, and she is now over 80 years old. And –– assuming that she is still fit enough to testify –– she will be forced to endure the ordeal of another trial. This time before an OJ jury.

    We have long held to the assumption that American institutions are basically fair. That assumption is no longer valid. Our Liberal masters are utterly unprincipled. The idea that ordinary Americans can get justice and fair treatment by operating within the traditional legal and political framework is now demonstrably false. The old rules don’t apply anymore.

    The Nerobama government is moving in new and dangerous directions.

    The only question now is whether Americans will stand aside while their country is given over to tyranny? Will we just close our eyes, and hope that conditions will improve, hope that the tyrants will disappear on their own volition?

    Is that what they meant by “hope and change”?

    • Mithrandir says:

      The template for the rallying cry is:

      1. More hate-crimes laws (which are discriminatory in nature anyway)
      2. More money to be funneled into blacks hands somehow.
      3. Hiring more black police officers.
      4. Death penalty for the perp.
      5. Some black person taking a soapbox saying “We have a long way to go in this country before there is racial equality….”

  2. Liberals Demise says:

    The circus must be in town. Look at all the clowns!!

  3. NoNeoCommies says:

    As the article states, both side have the ability to dismiss some jurors with no explanation or reasoning.
    This provides the defense with the same advantage given to th prosecutor, so there should have been no reason for the appellate court to do anything other than deny a review.
    In the few cases I have been in a jury pool, the judge dismissed people like the black juror that claimed bias against the police.
    He also kept jurors that claimed bias, but admitted they could still be impartial.

  4. Mithrandir says:

    Recognize the POWER OF JURY NULLIFICATION here people.

    Tired of the oppressive police state? DON’T Skip jury duty!

    These people are so afraid that blacks will ignore the law as revenge against the governmentfor prior grievances [O.J. Simpson jury] that they strike them from the jury. Yeah, it’s a bad way to get revenge, but it is the last line of defense against a corrupt government.

    The government takes your tax dollars, stacks the deck against you with paid judges, police, lawyers, and you have NOTHING! In my opinion, the gov’t is 100% at fault, the defendant 100% innocent in most cases, even if the oppressive law states otherwise.

  5. beautyofreason says:

    Interestingly I had a similar case with a black defendant that was thrown out on a minor technicality.

    I was selected as jury duty in case against a man who allegedly drove without a license. The defendant was black and his attorney asserted that he had been discriminated against because the two witnesses who claimed to see him drive *might* think that all black people look alike, hence they could not have recognized him on a moped at a distance of 20 feet. This attorney tried to pin it on a case on mistaken identity between the defendant and his brother, despite the fact that one witness knew the family and gave a detailed description of the difference between the siblings. The two people who testified seeing him drive were off duty police officers, who just happened to be white. At some point the prosecutor let this information slip by prefacing a name with “Officer….” and the judge declared a mistrial. The defendant apparently had a huge rap sheet of previous crimes, hence the officers knew him and his family well. Somehow someone came to the conclusion that if the jurors knew that the witnesses were police officers that his civil rights would be violated…

    My fellow jurors and I were about to vote guilty on the man, without having this information beforehand, but the entire case was thrown out based on that stupid technicality.

  6. Wouldn’t mind one bit if the next person this guy tries to rape – because he will – frees him from the mortal coil and then sues the hell out of whoever had a hand in letting him free.

  7. proreason says:

    So why can’t racial bias apply to any crime that involve a government-preferred defendant?

    “he was complelled to beat and rob the alleged victim because the alleged victim was a racist”

    btw, in case you aren’t aware of it, there are over 100,000 black on white rapes in this country annually. Some years, at least, there are zero white on black rapes. Do you see the pattern in that? In case you don’t see it, the pattern is that racist America is unfair to black men.

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