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Ahmaud Arbery: Judge Denies Request To Change The Racial Makeup Of Jury In Murder Trial

by : Julia Banim on : 04 Nov 2021 13:42
Ahmaud Arbery: Outrage As Judge Refuses To Change The Racial Makeup Of Jury In Murder TrialAlamy

A Georgia judge has sparked concern after refusing to change the racial makeup of the jury in the trial of the men who killed Ahmaud Arbery.

Arbery, 25, was shot while out jogging in Brunswick, Georgia, on February 23, 2020. Former police officer Greg McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, pursued him in a pickup truck, armed with a pistol and a shotgun.

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Their neighbour, William ‘Roddie’ Bryan, joined the pursuit in a separate truck, recording harrowing footage of the younger McMichael shooting Arbery, who was pronounced dead at the scene.

The defendants, who weren’t arrested until the footage was leaked two months later, told Glynn County Police that Arbery had resembled a suspect in a spate of alleged break-ins in the area, prompting them to pursue him.

On Wednesday, November 3, Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley ruled that one Black juror and 11 white jurors will be seated, despite objections from prosecutors that several potential jurors were allegedly dropped because they were Black.

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Judge Walmsley acknowledged that although it would appear that ‘intentional discrimination’ by the defendants’ attorneys had influenced jury selection, Georgia laws limited his ability to intervene, with defence attorneys able to provide non-racial reasons for cutting the potential jurors, AP News reports.

Shortly after attorneys had finalised narrowing a 48 person panel to a final jury of 12, prosecutor Linda Dunikoski remarked that just one Black juror had made the final selection, arguing that the defence team had struck off eight potential jurors on account of their race.

Ahmaud Arbery (Alamy)Alamy

Under the laws of the US Supreme Court, it is unconstitutional for attorneys to get rid of potential jurors based solely on their race or ethnicity, however Judge Walmsley determined that the defence team were ‘able to explain to the court why besides race those individuals were struck from the panel’.

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Greg McMichael’s attorney, Laura Hogue, insisted the struck jurors had been removed for other reasons, namely for showing strong views about the trial during individual questioning.

For example, Hogue stated that one potential juror had written in a questionnaire that Arbery had been shot ‘due to his colour’, telling attorneys that she believed the three defendants to be guilty.

Judge Walmsley denied a request by prosecutors to have the eight Black potential jurors reinstated, although he did remark that, ‘This court has found there appears to be intentional discrimination in the panel’.

Ahmaud Arbery (Alamy)Alamy
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Speaking with members of the press outside the courthouse, Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, described the decision to only appoint one Black juror as ‘devastating’, however expressed confidence that the jury will ‘make the right decision after seeing all the evidence’.

During an interview on The Mehdi Hasan Show, attorney CK Hoffler condemned the decision as a ‘travesty’, arguing that the jury ‘does not reflect the makeup of the community, quite frankly’.

Hoffler also alleged that Black prospective jurors were asked more ‘probing’ questions during the selection process, effectively eliminating them.

The final jury, alongside four alternates, will be seated and sworn in on Friday, November 5, at which point opening statements are expected to be given. The races of the alternate jurors have not been given.

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If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence, contact Stop Hate UK by visiting their website www.stophateuk.org/talk

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Julia Banim

Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.

Topics: News, Ahmaud Arbery

Credits

AP and 1 other
  1. AP

    One Black juror, 11 whites to hear trial over Arbery slaying

  2. The Mehdi Hasan Show/Twitter

    @MehdiHasanShow