Skip to comments.Court seeks color-blind jury - Prequalifications begin today in Boyd case to weed out racial bias
Posted on 04/07/2008 7:52:18 AM PDT by SmithL
Raise your hand if you are a racist.
The question put to potential jurors today in U.S. District Court likely won't be that blunt, but the aim is the same: Ferret out anyone who cannot be color-blind when deciding the fate of accessory to fatal carjacking suspect Eric "E" Boyd.
It is an unusual inquiry in what U.S. District Judge Tom Varlan is already foreseeing as an uncommon method to seat an impartial jury in an inflammatory case involving a headline-grabbing crime and a resulting racial firestorm.
Boyd is standing trial beginning today on charges he helped hide Lemaricus "Slim" Davidson, the alleged ringleader in the January 2007 torture slaying of 21-year-old University of Tennessee student Channon Christian and her 23-year-old boyfriend, Christopher Newsom.
The couple was out on a date when armed suspects confronted them and demanded Christian's Toyota 4 Runner. But the carjacking quickly turned into a kidnapping, with the pair taken to a house on Chipman Street, beaten, tortured and raped. Newsom was slain first. He was shot, and his body set afire. Christian's ordeal would continue for several more hours before she was strangled and her body stashed inside a garbage can in the house.
Boyd is not charged in those slayings. However, Assistant U.S. Attorneys David Jennings and Tracy Stone must prove Davidson was involved in the fatal carjacking in order to convince jurors Boyd was an accessory. That means Boyd's trial will inevitably serve as a preview of the capital murder case filed in Knox County Criminal Court against Davidson and three alleged cohorts. And that case already has drawn protests organized by hate groups protesting what they contend is a dearth of national coverage of a black-on-white crime and spurred sometimes heated dialogue on whether it should be labeled a hate crime.
The suspects are black; the victims white.
All of that adds up to a more rigorous than usual process of picking a jury. Varlan already has mapped out a method he outlined at a hearing Friday.
"It's a little different," the judge said with a grin.
Some 80 potential jurors are being summoned today, a larger pool than is customary. Varlan plans to use two courtrooms to carry out the uncustomary "prequalification" process he said he intends to employ to try to weed out potential jurors already prejudiced by either media coverage of the case or racial bias.
After addressing the entire pool in one courtroom, Varlan will move next door to his own courtroom. So jurors won't know Boyd is already behind bars pending trial, Jennings, Stone and defense attorney Phil Lomonaco will enter that courtroom via the same entrance used to bring in prisoners.
Varlan said he will bring in 14 jurors at a time to begin polling them on possible biases or conflicts.
"If we get a yes answer or a show of hands, then I will follow up with individual questioning," Varlan said. "After we go through that process we would then come up with a number that would be prequalified. We would then start our normal (jury selection) process."
Lomonaco said he was skeptical that potential jurors would honestly disclose racial bias.
"People don't want to admit they have bias," he said. "Some don't even know they have it."
Varlan disagreed, turning aside Lomonaco's request to quiz potential jurors himself about prejudices they might harbor.
"There should be no need if the pre-qualification process goes as I anticipate," Varlan said.
And here's why the Judge is concerned:
Black juror blamed for mistrial
Panelists claim woman wouldn't consider evidence, accused them of racism
Raise your hand in MA and say this and the Judge will charge you with contempt.
Any chance the national MSM will cover this? Think maybe Al Sharpton will show up and demand the death penalty for these guys? How about Jesse Jackson? Think Tim Russert might ask Barry Obama about whether “hate” crime laws should apply here?
All they have to do is check see if any of these disgusting perps were a member of Obama's church and it's a slam dunk.
Knoxville had been on our list of potential retirment spots — places to escape California.
Looks like we can strike it off our list?
No problem ... I'd just lie.
Ishihara tests now part of voir dire.
If there was any justice in this country, this crime would be as well known as the murder of Mathew Shepherd or James Byrd. As it is, since the rape and murder of whites by minorities is silently condoned by large parts of this nation, this crime is hardly mentioned in the media. Note the reaction to the OJ Simpson case. Many people in this land have hate, and view the crimes of the “poor” and the “oppressed” as reasonable reactions to their plight.
Why does it take hate groups to complain about a lack of national coverage? Any “unbiased” person can see that is the case.
I have dreaded the coming of these trials or months. Any time I even see a headline I feel my heart race and I get sick with anger and hate. How awful. Then I remind myself of what an utter hell it will be for the parents of those kids. And they probably have to go through it repeatedly. I wonder too if the defendants will not behave themselves in court. Remember how the dirtbags in the Wichita case even had the nerve to taunt the families of their victims.
Who is being asked if they have racial bias? The article kind of glosses that one over.
Trying to weed out racial bias. Is that on both sides of the aisle? I have to wonder.
There are so many sick crimes committed. But the viciousness and depravity of this one certainly stands out. That makes it even more ludicrous that it never made the national media. Have Nancy Grace or Greta touched this issue? If so I have not heard it. After the Cheshire CT home invasion rape/murders last summer that became a huge national story, mostly focusing on how the low lifes involved committed so many crimes but were still out on the street. Same with the Knoxville case. Yet the networks are largely silent. Gee I wonder why.
I wouldn't say that this case, as heinous as it is, reflects on normal living in Knox-vegas. I lived there for several years and met my wife there. There's really good people and it is a pretty laid back easy going lifestlye - until football season. :-)
Might be a good reason to purchase and carry a snubbie .38, no matter where you move.
I hear Portland is a nice place for Califlowers to escape to. Seattle even nicer. The politics are strange, the cities are nice.
The white kids who were killed in this crime probably let their guard down because they weren't expecting something like this. It's similar to the Wichita atrocity, or the college girl who was killed a couple of weeks ago in Chapel Hill. People are more on the lookout for these things in places like Memphis or St. Louis. The relative calm of a place like Knoxville can lull you into a false sense of security.
DW and I escaped to Southern Oregon last year.
The climate is a little cooler, but not bad. Everything south of (but not including) Eugene has pretty conservative local politics.
Shall issue state, much lower taxes than CA. Real Estate is much lower than CA, although probably higher than Knoxville. Take a little trip North and see.
FYI: In 1999, the DOJ reported that there were 20,003 black on white rapes and sexual assaults (55 per day), compared to 33 white on black rapes and sexual assaults (.09 per day).
Because no mainstream white would dare do so under the present stifling PC atmosphere. Imagine if the races had been reversed in this case, with an attractive black couple as victims and a gang of white hoodlums as the perps. It would have become not only a national news story, but a subject of political debate as well. Obama & Hillary would have been all over it. Bush & McCain would have both denounced the heinous crime. Every black preacher and civic leader within 100 miles of Knoxville would have led a march through the city in protest. Tennessee's governor would have attended. The mayor would have apologized for not doing more to prevent this from happening ahead of time. And so on.
But there is no legitimate representation permitted for whites as a group. If a white city councilman or minister had tried to make an issue of this, he'd have immediately been attacked by every media outlet for inflaming racial intolerance. His fellow pastors or politicians would have ostracized him. So everyone just keeps quiet, because speaking up can result in a loss of respectability. The only ones who show up to protest are white supremacist types who, for good reason, have no respectability to worry about.
Lenoir City on the lakes. Check it out.
Racism exists at many different levels and exists among all colors and shades thereof. I doubt there is anyone who is not to one degree or another, often coming from one’s life experiences; i.e. Obama’s mother (she was mugged and is fearful.)
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