CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Defense: Jury Racially Biased

From  Several jurors who convicted a black trash collector in the slaying of a white fashion writer made disparaging racial remarks during deliberations, which at one point became so heated two jurors had to be separated, according to documents filed Tuesday.  The attorney for Christopher McCowen, who was convicted last month in the January 2002 rape and murder of writer Christa Worthington, filed the sworn statements from three jurors about three other jurors as part of a bid for a new trial.  "The statements clearly indicate that these jurors were racially biased against the defendant before deliberations ever started," attorney Robert George said.

According to the affidavits, filed by jurors identified only as Juror A, Juror B and Juror C, racist comments included snide remarks from a white female juror about a black female juror's hairstyle and questions about her educational background; a white female juror commenting that she was afraid of McCowen, saying "the big black guy" was staring at "us"; and a black male juror's comments that he did not like other blacks because "look at what they are capable of."  The black female juror, referred to as Juror A, said in her affidavit that the white woman, while trying to convince other jurors that Worthington had been bruised during a struggle, "exploded when I questioned her about it by yelling that '...when a big black guy beats up on a small woman' bruises of that size would happen."  Juror A then called the woman a racist and the two had to be separated, according to the affidavit.  The affidavits also describe the pressure the jurors say was exerted on them to switch their votes from not guilty to guilty.  Juror B said that after the jury delivered its guilty verdict Nickerson told them they could have declared a second deadlock. Both Juror A and Juror B said they would not have changed their votes to guilty if they had known that.   Full story... [Mark Godsey]

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1. definite racial bias BEFORE trial even started
2. Jurors given mis-leading instructions by judge- three of them saying they would not have voted guilty could they have hung.

Posted by: bittersweet | Aug 20, 2007 7:50:31 PM

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