Georgia prosecutors purposefully and systematically excluded “slow” Black jurors from seven death penalty trials involving Black defendants in the 1970s, said a new court motion filed Monday.
Racism motivated several decisions by prosecuting attorneys to create juries without African Americans, who were also called “fat,” “ignorant” and “con man.” Prosecutors went as far as having marked Black people on jury lists with either a “B” or “N” (N-word) and horribly ranked them as the “least desirable” people to be on a jury, the filing, reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, said.
All 27 prospective Black jurors were left out of five of the trials from 1975 to 1979. All-White juries heard those cases, AJC’s report said.
In one trial, an all-white jury convicted Johnny Gates of raping and murdering a white woman as well as sentenced him to die in 1977. The trials of Gates, 62, and other Black defendants were poisoned by racist jury selection, Patrick Mulvaney, a lawyer with the Southern Center for Human Rights who represents Gates, said to The Associated Press.
“When you have this kind of race discrimination infecting a trial from the start, it really undermines the reliability of the proceedings all the way through,” Mulvaney, who is seeking a new trial for Gates after he was sentenced to life without parole, said.
Also, three African-American defenders were also executed in their trials, according to the AJC.
The racist exclusion of Blacks in the cases four decades ago has paralleled some of the discrimination incidents that have garnered national attention today. Racism in the criminal justice system will not be tolerated.
“Every person accused of a criminal offense has the right to a fair trial that’s free of race discrimination,” Mulvaney said.
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