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Racial injustice cannot be ignored in court – Virginia criminal lawyer

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Racial injustice cannot be ignored in court - Virginia criminal lawyer

Racial injustice cannot be ignored in court – Virginia criminal lawy

Racial injustice seeps into courthouses just as it continues in general society, says Virginia criminal lawyer

Racial injustice remains too common. Society has made important strides towards racial justice after Martin Luther King, Jr., shared his dream, but we remain far from reaching his goal for full racial justice. As a Virginia criminal lawyer who moved from Manhattan to attend law school in the nation’s capital, I am in the historical cradle of the confederacy, where one critical remaining step towards racial justice in the courtrooms needs to be to give criminal defendants the sole choice whether to proceed by a bench trial in Circuit Court. In counties with jury pools more likely to convict based on race, this jury trial waiver right for defendants is critical.

Virginia criminal attorney applauds the Supreme Court’s reaffirmation of the racial justice right against prosecutorial race-based jury strikes

The United States Supreme Court has many times protected against racial injustice, including barring racial segregation in schools (Brown v. Board of Education) (1954), invalidating laws criminalizing interracial marriage (Loving v. Virginia) (1967), and providing relief for criminal defendants whose prosecutors make race-based juror strikes (Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79) (1986).

Today, in a racial justice win, SCOTUS overwhelmingly reaffirmed Batson, 7-2, during a year when the court’s five conservative justices’ willingness to overturn long-running Supreme Court precedent in two cases (Knick v. Scott Township and Franchise Tax Board of California v. Hyatt ) raises questions whether that is a prelude to diluting or overturning Roe v. Wade and other precedents affecting individuals’ choices and affairs. Flowers v. Mississippi, ___ U.S. ___ (June 21, 2019).

Fairfax criminal lawyer warns prosecutors against exercising race-based jury strikes

Prosecutors must meticulously follow Batson‘s Equal Protection/ racial justice prohibition against race-based jury strikes, summarized in the opinion’s concluding paragraph:

“[P]etitioner made a timely objection to the prosecutor’s removal of all black persons on the venire. Because the trial court flatly rejected the objection without requiring the prosecutor to give an explanation for his action, we remand this case for further proceedings. If the trial court decides that the facts establish, prima facie, purposeful discrimination and the prosecutor does not come forward with a neutral explanation for his action, our precedents require that petitioner’s conviction be reversed.” Batson.

Virginia criminal lawyer Jonathan L. Katz pursues a winning approach for defendants accused of felony, misdemeanor, DUI, drug, marijuana and sex offenses. To discuss your case with Jon Katz, please call his staff at 703-383-1100 to schedule a confidential consultation.