Friday, January 8, 2016

Judge Strikes all white jury mid-trial

Shaun King
Judge Olu Stevens
A Judge in Kentucky, Olu Stevens, may be removed from the bench after  twice striking down all white jurors during voir dire; in effect, racially discriminating against each and every person on those juries.  Striking a petit trial juror based on race has been addressed by the United States Supreme Court in several cases and the final opinion is consistently the same:

Justice Powell : A person's race simply "is unrelated to his fitness as a juror." Id. at 227 (Frankfurter, J., dissenting). As long ago as Strauder, therefore, the Court recognized that, by denying a person participation in jury service on account of his race, the State unconstitutionally discriminated against the excluded juror. 100 U.S. at 308; see Carter v. Jury Comm'n of Greene County, supra, at 329-330; Neal v. Delaware, supra, at 386.
In a New York Daily News article written by Shaun King, the selection process of a jury pool (venire) is confused with the selection process of a petit  jury (Voir dire) ,  The subject of the article, Judge Olu Stevens, seems to be a bit confused on the process as well.  On facebook Stevens posted that he has the right to take action to ensure a jury is representative of the community.  He does not have that right because this guarantee only applies to venire selection.  Judge Stevens struck one jury in the middle of a trial.
".... defendant has no right to a petit jury composed in whole or in part of persons of his own race. Strauder v. West Virginia, 100 U.S. 303, 305 . However, the Equal Protection Clause guarantees the defendant that the State will not exclude members of his race from the jury venire on account of race, or on the false assumption that members of his race as a group are not qualified to serve as jurors". - more
Venire: How juries are compiled for selection into a jury pool in Kentucky:

The AOC, which is the administrative arm of the Kentucky Court of Justice, compiles a master list of prospective jurors for each of the 120 counties. Juror names are drawn from all people filing a Kentucky resident individual tax return, registered voters and licensed drivers over age 18. The AOC removes the names of deceased individuals by cross-referencing a list from the Kentucky Office of Vital Statistics. To qualify for jury duty, a person must:

Be 18 years of age or older;
Be a United States citizen;
Be a resident of the county in which the case is to be tried;
Be able to speak and understand English;
Not have been convicted of a felony, unless pardoned or had his or her civil rights restored by the governor or other authorized person of the jurisdiction in which he or she was convicted;
Not be currently under indictment;
Not have served on a jury within the past 24 months.
NYDN, Shaun King:"One of the rare African-American judges in Louisville, Stevens, who had served with great esteem as an attorney and judge in Kentucky for years, all of a sudden became controversial in the eyes of some when he struck down two all-white juries for black defendants." [link]
Aside from the fact that Stevens is in trouble with the IRS for unpaid income taxes ($600.000), and under investigation for libelous posts he's written on Facebook about a Prosecutor, it is clear, from this video, Judge Stevens is not at all about fairness in meting out justice.  He gave a probation sentence to an armed home invader, who was black, after he was convicted of breaking into a house occupied by a couple and their three year old, and then the Judge reprimanded the victims, a white family.

Last month, Chief Justice John Minton harshly criticized Stevens for his Facebook posts.

"Judge Stevens’s ensuing public discourse appears to flout the directives of the Code of Judicial Conduct, creating a social-media firestorm calculated to aggrandize himself by exploiting the deep-seated and widespread distrust of the criminal-justice system by minority communities,"

This is a case that has now been taken up by the NAACP and the National Bar Association, Attorney Benjamin Crump is the President of the latter.  Always a huge red flag when Benjamin Crump is involved and there are protests....and with very few exceptions, always shady narrative.  Judge Stevens is a Morehouse alum.

Protest against removing Judge Stevens from the bench
Judge Stevens gives a speech about his decision to strike white jurors
See also Batson v. Kentucky (No. 84-6263)
Documents on IRS tax liens