North Carolina Supreme Court set to rule on jury race discrimination law

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CHARLOTTE, NC (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – It’s been illegal to disqualify jurors – on the basis of race- since the 1986 US Supreme Court case of Batson v. Kentucky. 

Now – 35 years later – will North Carolina finally enforce that law?  

The case before the North Carolina Supreme Court is the 2016 robbery conviction of Christopher Clegg. His lawyer, Dylan Buffum, started with a recap of jury selection at trial.


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“The prosecutor struck black jurors at six times the rate of white jurors, the prosecutors struck all of the black women from jury and two-thirds of the people of color; in contrast, the prosecutor struck only 11% of white jurors – 2 of 19.” 

Clegg’s lawyer says the trial court ignored the history of race discrimination in wake county. “This prosecutors office has a sustained routine practice of removing black jurors more than they remove white jurors.” 

During jury selection, clegg’s lawyer says the prosecutor lumped two black women in the same category. “When the prosecutor talked about the demeanor of the black women, he couldn’t distinguish between them. . .they both looked shifty to him in exactly the same ways. . .the prosecutor told the court he didn’t like the way the black women looked.” 

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The government’s appeals lawyer, Amy Irene, defended the trial prosecutor, saying he simply made a mistake – and asked the judges to find “that evidence of purposeful discrimination was lacking.” Ms. Irene added, “this record shows the employment reason for Ms. Jeffries was supported; the prosecutor made an honest mistake about Ms. Aubry but making a mistake is not the same thing as purposefully discriminating.” 

Christopher Clegg, wasn’t present at his hearing – not because he’s in prison – he’s been free for months. Now he’s just waiting for his name to be cleared –  and then he will truly be free. 

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