Case of the Week

Inmate Says Prosecutor Excluded Juror Based On Race

, The Connecticut Law Tribune

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Glenn W. Falk of New Haven Legal Assistance Association

"What kind of message will it send to young people in Connecticut if they are excluded from an important right and responsibility of citizenship because of how they describe their race in the juror questionnaire?" wrote Falk. "What kind of message will it send to defendants, many of whom are of diverse racial heritage too?... The judgment of conviction should be vacated and the case remanded for a new trial, not only for the integrity of the particular trial but also for the perceived fairness of the judicial system as a whole."

Assistant State's Attorney Kathryn Bare argues that the peremptory challenge was proper and race neutral.

"It was [the woman's] idiosyncratic answer to the race question, and not [her] race that triggered the prosecutor's exercise of a peremptory challenge," wrote Bare. "Contrary to the defendant's assertions, the prosecutor did articulate his rationale for the challenge and why the answer caused him concern: although he had picked numerous juries, he never had seen anyone answer the question in the way that [the woman] did, which stood out as a red flag to him. He found it unusual and the trial court agreed."

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