A brief look at the most egregious examples from the last 40 years.
Two weeks ago — that’s not an error; I didn’t mean to type “decades” and it came out “weeks” — the Times published an op-ed by a federal appeals judge stating: “All-white juries risk undermining the perception of justice in minority communities, even if a mixed-race jury would have reached the same verdict or imposed the same sentence.”
In other words, even when provably not unfair, white jurors create the “perception” of unfairness solely by virtue of the color of their skin.
Innocence Project co-founder Barry Scheck’s entire career of springing criminals would be gone if it were generally accepted that we can’t question judges or juries based on race or ethnicity. Writing about the release of Glenn Ford, a black man convicted of robbing a jewelry store and murdering the owner, Scheck claimed that one of the most important factors in Ford’s death sentence was the “all-white jury.”
On the other hand, the evidence against Ford included: His two black friends telling police he’d shown them jewelry the day of the murder, another Ford acquaintance swearing he’d had a .38 in his waistband — the murder weapon was a .38 — and the gunshot residue on Ford’s hand. His conviction was overturned many years later, on the theory that his black friends had committed the murder, then framed him.
So we know 1) the “real killers” were also black; and 2) any jury would have convicted Ford on that evidence.
Here’s how the Times described Ford’s trial: “A black man convicted of murder by an all-white jury in Louisiana in 1984 and sentenced to die, tapped into an equally old and painful vein of race.”Click here for reuse options!
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