Monday, June 20, 2005
Jury of your peers
The American Family Association through Agape Press
is promoting the idea that systematic racial discrimination in voir dire is A-OK
Recently, in an 8-1 decision, the Supreme Court threw out a California murder conviction of a black man found guilty by an all-white jury. And in a Texas case, in a 6-3 vote, justices overturned the murder conviction of a death row inmate, saying the jury selection process had been infected by racial discrimination.
Mychal Massie is on the National Advisory Council of the conservative African-American group known as Project 21. He finds the two recent Supreme Court rulings problematic.
Massie says the implication behind the high court rulings is that "the only way a black person can get a fair trial is with a black person on the jury." However, he asks, "What happens if you have blacks on the jury, you have a black plaintiff, you have a black person standing accused, and they do not find [the defendant] innocent?"
The arguments in [Michael Jackson's] case, Massie points out, included the assertion "that there was no way he could get a fair trial." Yet somehow, the black conservative points out, Jackson was acquitted by a jury not of his race but of his peers -- fellow citizens.
You wouldn't think I have to explain this, but anyone who thinks juries find people "innocent" is obviously not familiar with how the criminal justice system works. For decades, prosecutors have systematically removed black citizens from jury panels because they are black. In America, the color of your skin ought not decide the length and breadth of your Constitutional rights.