The Jefferson Circuit Court judge halted a drug trial and dismissed the selection, because there was only one black person in the entire bunch! The panel was selected from 37 whites and only 3 blacks. “The concern is that the panel is not representative of the community,” he said. Judge Olu is being blasted for this and now the state Supreme Court is trying to figure out if he is abusing his power, because this is actually the second time he’s done this– in less than a year!
On November 18th, 2014, Stevens called a 13-member jury “troublesome” after noticing that there were no minorities present at all! “There is not a single African-American on this jury and (the defendant) is an African-American man,” Stevens said in a video of the trial.
“I cannot in good conscience go forward with this jury.” Then, just like that, a new jury was assembled the next day.
But are Judge Olu’s actions justified? According to WDRB they just might be. “Jefferson County has long had a problem with minorities being underrepresented on local juries. Several black defendants have complained over the years that they were convicted by an all-white jury – not of their peers.
The Racial Fairness commission – a group made up of local judges, lawyers and citizens – has studied the issue for years, monitored the make-up of jury panels and found them consistently lacking in minorities.”
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Dorislee Gilbert, does not agree with Judge Olu’s actions and believes that “[he] struck the jury based on nothing more than unsupported fear or impression that the jury might not be fair because of its racial makeup. There was no consideration of whether the commonwealth or the citizens who had sacrificed of their own lives to make themselves available for jury service had any rights or interests in continuing to trial with the jury as selected.”
Does that mean that the defendant doesn’t have a right to a fair trial? I mean, you are innocent until proven guilty.
According to records kept by the commission, only 14% of potential jurors were black and in September, only 13% of potential Jefferson County jurors were black. “It’s a problem,” said Appeals Court Judge Denise Clayton. “We are not hitting that representation.”
It appears as though Judge Olu is trying his best, as a man in a position of power, to provide some people with real justice. Whether or not the Supreme Court decides that he’s abusing his position, do you think that it is just for a judge to create a fair trial? Tell us what you think, roommates!
Source Cited: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/oct/27/olu-stevens-black-kentucky-judge-dismisses-entire-/, http://www.wdrb.com/story/30308688/louisville-judge-questioned-for-dismissing-juries-based-on-lack-of-minorities
TSR Intern: Talia O. @theclosetratchet on Instagram & @tallyohhh on Twitter!