Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Eighth circuit court of appeals reverses death sentence from Dallas county Missouri because the Prosecutor was playing sociologist poorly and the Judge was getting his anthropology wrongHerbert Smulls v. Donald Roper U.S. Court of Appeals Case 052456P.pdf 11/01/2006 U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri - St. Louis . The eighth circuit issues a rare reversal of a death sentence on Batson grounds. The prosecutor removed the only "dark" person on the jury and his reason was he didnt trust postal workers, even though some of his inlaws were postal workers. The judge during jury selection added to the farce by challenging the defense attorney's assumption that she could pick out black persons from among shades of skin color. Neverthe less the Eighth Circuit reverses and remand for a new Batson hearing at the district court or an outright vacation of the death sentence. The Prosecutor commented on how distrustful postal workers are: "Venire person indicated that she is a mail sorter for Monsanto Company. That she sorts mail for, I believe she said, 5000 people. And her husband works for the post office. And I believe she listed him as a custodian. It's been my experience in the nine years that I've been a prosecutor that I treat people who work as mail sorters and as mailcarriers, letter carriers and people who work for the U.S. Post Office with great suspicion in that they have generally – in my experience in many of the trials that I've had – are very disgruntled, unhappy people with the system and make every effort to strike back. In my experience as a prosecutor, in trying cases where I've had several cases and left mail people on the jury, had them result in a hung jury. The most recent of which was a murder case in this courthouse last September, State versus Dana Ruff (phonetically) where a mail carrier was the holdout for a hung jury in that case. I also have several in-laws who are employees of the postal department and even though they are somewhat relatives, I share the same opinion of them. So I treat them with great suspicion. The trial judge topped this with some brillant anthropology, worth of Gunnar Myrdal: I don't know what it is to be black. I don't know what constitutes black. And I never, in this Court,no matter what any appellate court may say, I never take judicial notice that anybody is black or that only one person or four persons or eightpersons are black. That to me is something that I don't think this Courtis wise enough or any other appellate court is wise enough unless thereis direct evidence as to who is black and who is white and who is orange and who is purple. I do not under any circumstances in this division ever take judicial notice of the number of people who are black. And Ibelieve that's counsel's responsibility to prove who is black and who isn'tor who is a minority and who isn't. There were some dark complexionedpeople on this jury. I don't know if that makes them black or white. As I said, I don't know what constitutes black. Years ago they used to sayone drop of blood constitutes black. I don't know what black means. Cansomebody enlighten me of what black is? I don't know; I think of themas people. I listened to the responses of Ms. Sidney. I watched her attitude very briefly as it may have been, and I'm not going to sit hereand say to you that Ms. Sidney is not black. But I'm not going to makea judgment as to whether anybody else on the panel was, so in any event,I'm merely telling you that for the record. I'd rather not even discuss it onthe record. But, in any event, I'm going to deny your motion for amistrial on the basis stated. Are we ready to proceed

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