A new development in the trial of the men accused of murdering Ahmaud Arbery has left several observers outraged.
After tenuous process, a jury has been seated in the trial of George McMichael, Travis McMichael and William "Roddy" Bryan. However, there is one glaring detail that is hard to overlook. In a county that is more than 25% Black, only one Black juror was asked to participate in the trial. Upset by the outcome, prosecutors reportedly asked Judge Timothy Walmsley to reseat eight of the 12 jurors because they felt that qualified Black jurors were removed because of their race. Walmsley agreed that certain Black jurors were discriminated against, but he refused to grant the prosecution's request.
"This court has found that there appears to be intentional discrimination on the panel, but that doesn't mean the court has the authority to reseat simply because we have this prima facie case," Walmsley said, according to BuzzFeed News.
The final group of 12 jurors was selected out of a group of 48 people. Of that group, 36 were white and 12 were Black. During the final selection process, the defense was able to remove 24 potential jurors and used that power to remove 11 Black jurors. After the process was complete, prosecutor Linda Dunikoski said all the court needed was "to do the math" to see that the defense was discriminating against Black jurors. Unsurprisingly, the defense disagrees.
In one instance, BuzzFeed News reports that defense attorneys dismissed a potential Black juror because he was a former cop and had a fiancé who was a "strong supporter of the justice for Ahmaud movement." Dunikoski argues that the defense treated the Black officer differently than white potential jurors with law enforcement backgrounds. Specifically, she claims that the defense pulled the Black officer's records during the selection process, but failed to do so for the former white officers during the jury selection process. Adding on, prosecutors argue that it's not fair to simply dismiss a juror for having an opinion about what happened because the overwhelming majority of the people they interviewed had already developed opinions about the case.
In another instance, Dunikoski claims that a Black juror was dismissed because she said that the case was about a "young man was shot due to his color and the three men who committed the act almost got away."
"We all know that's what she said, but [the defense] failed to provide any reason that she's different than any other juror, stating the facts they had heard from the news media and TV," Dunikoski told BuzzFeed News.
"The real question here was: Can you put that aside? Because it's been based on news media ... and in this case this juror did indicate she could do that."
Walmsley ultimately agreed with the prosecution's premise about the defense, but he refused to intervene. Citing state law, the judge argued that a jury could not be unseated under accusations of discrimination unless there was reason to believe the defense provided reasons for striking Black jurors that were not "genuine."
"At least in the state of Georgia, the court, if it hears a legitimate, nondiscriminatory, clear, and reasonably specific ... reason related to the case — that is usually enough to get the court to a finding in this third phase where the panelist doesn't need to be reseated," the judge said, according to BuzzFeed News.
"The court is not going to place into the defense a finding that they are ... not being truthful to the court."
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The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
The National Alliance on Mental Illness 1-800-950-6264
The Association of Black Psychologists 1-301-449-3082
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America 1-240-485-1001
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