DA Will Review All Alameda Death Penalty Cases

Prosecutors Discover Evidence of Prosecutorial Misconduct – Exclusion of Jews and Blacks from Jury Service

by David M. Greenwald
Executive Editor

San Francisco, CA – Alameda County DA Pamela Price announced that her office will review all death penalty cases after evidence of what appears to be the exclusion of Jewish and Black jurors was found during the resentencing settlement of Earnest Dykes.

The direction comes from US Federal Court Judge Vince Chhabria.

Dykes was convicted in 1993 of the attempted murder of Bernice Clark and the murder of her 9-year-old grandson Lance Clark during an attempted robbery and was sentenced to death in 1995 in Alameda County.

While reviewing the case, a Deputy DA found handwritten notes that the DA’s office believes show that prosecutors had intentionally excluded Jewish and Black female jurors from the jury pool.

Those notes, the DA’s office said, were then disclosed to the defense and the court.

In light of this discovery, Judge Chhabria has directed a review of all death penalty cases from Alameda County for any potential signs of prosecutorial misconduct in the form of the exclusion of jurors based solely on race.

“The Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to a trial by an impartial jury of one’s peers,” said DA Pamela Price.

She added, “Any practice by prosecutors to eliminate potential jurors because of their race betrays that core pillar of the criminal justice system.”

As the Ninth Circuit has pointed out, “[I]t does not matter that the prosecutor might have had good reasons to strike the prospective jurors. What matters is the real reason they were stricken.”

She continued, “A Wheeler violation is prejudicial per se because racial discrimination in jury selection undermines the structural integrity of the criminal tribunal itself. My office is committed to following Judge Chhabria’s direction in reviewing all death penalty cases in Alameda County for any signs of being tainted by prosecutorial misconduct from the past.”

Color Of Change noted in a release that in 2006, a whistleblower prosecutor from the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office told courts that a judge had advised him to remove a Jewish person from a death penalty jury.

The release noted, “The prosecutor testified under oath of the practice of removing Black and Jewish people from juries, but the California Supreme Court ultimately found insufficient evidence of misconduct in a case that could have overturned dozens of death sentences.”

“This is horrifying,” said Michael Collins, Color Of Change’s senior director of state and local government affairs.  “We have known for a long time that prosecutors often engage in unethical practices, but this scandal, uncovered by DA Pamela Price, is unparalleled. The prosecutors and judges implicated in this scandal engaged in racist and antisemitic practices and sent people to their deaths.”

Collins added, “For too long, prosecutors have sought to win at all costs, even if it means engaging in constitutional violations, civil rights violations and antisemitic and racially disparate practices that result in people sentenced to death. We know of 35 people who will have their cases reviewed, and hopefully overturned, but there are likely many more.”

Thirty-five death penalty cases have been identified and are now under review by the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office. The District Attorney’s Office is reaching out to victims and survivors whom these crimes may have impacted.

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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