CNN Reports Convicted Killer May Be Released because Juries Routinely and Explicitly Exclude Blacks and Jewish People from Juries

By The Vanguard Staff

OAKLAND, CA – CNN reported this week the convicted murderer of a nine-year-old boy during a robbery in 1993 here may be released within a year although he was sentenced to death, suggesting it may be because prosecutors routinely exclude Black and Jewish people from juries.

“(Lance) Dykes might be released because, while preparing for his appeal, an Alameda County deputy district attorney found in the dusty case files some handwritten notes about potential jurors from the trial back in the 1990s,” said CNN.

It has everything to do with the jury and how prosecutors appear to have made sure no Black or Jewish jurors were seated, as in the Dykes trial.

CNN said one potential Black juror is described as a “short, fat troll,” and like other Black potential jurors—and only Black potential jurors—her race is noted.

CNN said the “letters ‘FB’ are written next to her name, apparently noting her gender and race. ‘Must go’ is written next to the name of a Black man, who is described as ‘MB.’ Another juror has the word ‘Jewish’ underlined on their questionnaire. Farther down, a handwritten note reads: ‘I liked him better than any other Jew. But no way.’”

Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price said, “When you have serious prosecutorial misconduct, that means that the conviction is a wrongful conviction. And so, it’s a question of whether or not we’re able to negotiate a resolution, or whether we have to go back to trial.”

Brian Pomerantz, current counsel for Dykes, told CNN, “Black people don’t like police. So, they’re more defense-oriented. I’ve heard a couple of different things. There’s a thought that perhaps Jewish jurors would not want to send someone to a gas chamber…(the) other was, they just thought Jewish jurors were more liberal.”

Federal Judge Vince Chhabria said to CNN he believes they are evidence of a bigger issue.

“In prior decades, prosecutors from this office were engaged in a pattern of serious misconduct – automatically excluding Jewish and African American jurors from death penalty cases,” he wrote in a court order.

The judge ordered the DA’s office to review 35 cases dating from the mid-1980s through 2007. Pomerantz is looking through those files as he works on his cases for Dykes and other clients.

“In almost all the cases we’ve seen lists like this,” he said to CNN, pointing to the letters ‘MB’ and ‘FB’ next to the names of potential jurors in a number of different cases, involving defendants of different races.

Pomerantz showed CNN “documents he says prove that jurors were being racially profiled and struck as late as 2008. Prosecutors, by law, cannot exclude jurors because of race, ethnicity, gender or sexuality.”

Pomerantz said he thinks some people sentenced to death might now be freed, quoted by CNN as noting, “For some, that may be the solution,” he said. ”And for some that should be the solution.”

CNN reported, “Price and Pomerantz believe there has been a decades-long cover-up of jury tampering within the Alameda County DA’s office,” with Price charging, “There does not appear to have been any accountability, or certainly no investigation to determine how widespread the practice was. There had to be knowledge.

“In 2003, during an appeal of a death penalty conviction, John Quatman, a former deputy DA, testified that a judge ‘said I could not have a Jew on the jury…It was standard practice to exclude Jewish jurors in death cases: as it was to exclude African-American women from capital juries.’”

“It is ironic they didn’t want me on the jury,” said Price, who is Black. “And now I’m the district attorney.”

CNN added, “A number of prosecutors who worked in the office testified in 2003 that Quatman’s claims were untrue, and some have told CNN that potential jurors were never racially profiled.

“According to Price, one of the prosecuting attorneys involved in jury selection on the Dykes case was Morris Jacobson, who now serves as a judge in Alameda County. Asked if it is Jacobson’s handwriting on those jury notes Price said, ‘We don’t know that for sure.’ It is also not known if it was definitely a prosecutor who wrote the notes.”

But, said CNN, “Judge Jacobson declined CNN’s request for an interview. A CNN crew waited outside his courthouse in Berkeley one day hoping to ask him some questions. Jacobson, a source said, knew they were outside but did not come out for at least two hours after his hearings had ended for the day.”

“This is one of the most liberal counties in America. This is where Berkeley is. If this is happening there, what’s happening everywhere else?” said Pomerantz.

CNN noted, “Studies have found patterns of racial bias in jury selection from California and Washington to Connecticut and New York as well as the Deep South.”

CNN quotes Pomerantz stating, “This is a tragedy on all levels. There are victims, families who are suffering because now these cases 30 years later are, are coming back through this situation. That’s incredibly unfair. It is wrong that these prosecutors did this this way and that now people are going to suffer for it.”

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