California court to review case of potential jurors dismissed over support of Black Lives Matter

A California appeals court will rule on whether dismissing potential jurors seemingly for their support of BLM is an act of jury discrimination

Updated: July 8, 2020 - 2:11pm

A California appeals court is taking up the issue of potential jurors bering dismissing for their seeming supporting for the Black Lives Matters movement is an act of jury discrimination.

In January, the California state Supreme Court announced its intention to review the rules for disqualifying potential jurors. Since at least 2016, there have been several reported instances of potential jurors being dismissed based apparently on their stated support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

In 2016, a woman named Crishala Reed was removed from a jury following a line of questioning from the prosecutor during which she was asked if she supported Black Lives Matter, and subsequently, if she supported "destroying other people's property."

The questioning of Reed's support for for the movement will now be taken up by the appeals court. Should the court find that that the prosecutor used race in the decision to remove Reed, the defendants could be eligible for a new trial.

Lawyers for the defendants say the prosecutor's decision to remove Reed violated the Constitution's ban on excluding prospective jurors based on their race.

The case in question involves the 2012 double-murder of a Bay Area couple, for which three Black men were found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. 

A court filing from the case says that Reed was "openly hostile when the prosecutor questioned her about BLM."

The California Attorney General's Office said that race was not a factor in the prosecutor's decision to dismiss Reed from the jury pool. 

During the jury selection process, lawyers often quiz jurors on their views of the criminal justice system. Courts have even allowed prosecutors to ask jurors about their opinions of past trial results, like the O.J. Simpson verdict. 

When asked about her views on fairness in the criminal justice system, Reed responded, "How I feel is that Black people are being sentenced longer than other races," but told the judge that her opinion could be set aside to maintain fairness during trial. 

Reed maintained that she supported the cause, but no illegal behavior associated with Black Lives Matter demonstrations.

Just the News Spotlight