i am

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harlem, usa
same-gender-loving contemporary descendant of enslaved africans. community activist, feminist, health educator, independent filmmaker, mentor, playwright, poet & spiritual being. featured at, in & on africana.com, afrikan poetry theatre, angel herald, bejata dot com, bet tonight with tavis smiley, blacklight online, black noir, brooklyn moon cafe, gmhc's barbershop, klmo-fm, lgbt community services center, longmoor productions, nuyorican poets cafe, our corner, poz, pulse, rolling out new york, rush arts gallery, saint veronica's church, schomburg center for research in black culture, sexplorations, the citizen, the new york times, the soundz bar, the trenton times, the village voice, upn news, uzuri, venus, vibe, wbai-fm, wnyc-fm & wqht-fm. volunteered with adodi, bailey house, inc., black men's xchange-new york, colorofchange.org, drug policy alliance, east harlem tutorial program, imagenation film & music festival, presente.org, save darfur coalition, the enough project, the osborne association, the sledge group & your black world. worked on films with maurice jamal & heather murphy. writing student of phil bertelsen & ed bullins. mjt975@msn.com.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Challenging Racially Homogenous Juries in Kentucky and Tennessee

louisville, kentucky circuit judge olu stevens was suspended last month for misconduct charges after dismissing a nearly all-white panel of prospective jurors. days later, the west louisville urban coalition held a rally to support the judge and highlight the lack of cultural diversity on state juries.

the courier-journal reported information on race is collected voluntarily, and at only some steps of the jury selection process. judge stevens, a black male, agreed to dismiss the panel of 41 - of which 38 are white - after a black defendant's lawyers argued they don't represent the cultural demographics of the community.

prosecutors objected and brought the case to the state court of appeals. the court ruled kentucky's lack of racial data from which jury pools are drawn "while unfortunate, does not amount to a deliberate attempt to exclude any particular group," and ordered judge stevens to stop dismissing juries. a related case is pending in the kentucky supreme court.

in nashville, tennessee, a trial in early april was delayed after a black juror stood up and told the judge he "did not think it was right to for two black men to face a jury with no black members on it." the jury panel included non-whites, but no blacks.

judge cheryl blackburn dismissed the jury because their lunchtime dialogue about the absence of blacks violated her instructions. the assistant district attorney said the judge told the jury not to discuss the case before hearing all the proof and arguments. judge blackburn earlier rejected the defense's claim of the prosecutors illegally striking jurors based on their race.

in 1986, the u.s. supreme court case of batson v. kentucky deemed excusing jurors based on race is unconstitutional.  the court ruled: 1) lawyers cannot strike - or remove - a person from a jury based on race; 2) defendants aren't entitled to a jury completely or partially composed of people of their own race; 3) if any lawyer seems prejudiced during jury selection, they must provide reasons why a person was removed.   

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