Imagine having an all white jury decide your fate while starring at a Confederate flag and a portrait of confederate President Jefferson Davis.
Yea, it sounds too absurd to be true, but in Tennessee that very situation is the reason why a convicted black man will get another trial.
In December 2018, Tim Gilbert was sentenced to six years in prison after being convicted of aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, unlawful possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, and resisting arrest. He was sentenced in June 2020.
Gilbert’s attorney later filed an appeal that argued Gilbert did not receive a fair trial under the law due to confederate symbols on display at the Giles County courthouse. According to the appeal, an antique Confederate flag and a portrait of Confederate President Jefferson Davis hung in the room where jurors considered the innocence or guilt of Gilbert. This coupled with the racial makeup of the jury and certain evidence in the case violated Gilbert’s right to a fair trial.
It wasn’t just the items in the room that was a cause of concern for Gilbert’s attorney. The room was also named after the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
Having the jury deliberate in a room named after the Daughters of the Confederacy, “exposed the jury to extraneous prejudicial information and violated his constitutional rights to a fair trial conducted by an impartial jury,” said Gilbert’s attorney.
The ruling by the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals agreed with Gilbert’s team a found they had provided enough evidence to show that the jury could have been persuaded or influenced by the memorabilia while deliberating in the room. The ruling also stated that the state attorneys did not respond adequately to Gilbert’s lawyers.
The ruling comes more than a year after Gilbert’s first motion for a new trial was dismissed by a Tennessee circuit Judge in August 2020.
No new trial date has been set as of yet, but the NewsOne team will continue to report on this story.