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Federal Appeals Court Blocks First Execution Since Governor Schwarzenegger Took Office

Source: Justin Sullivan / Getty

All current death penalty cases in one northern California county were ordered to be reviewed after the revelation of a racist and antisemitic scandal that targeted inmates who were Black and Jewish.

Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price announced Monday that her office had been directed by a federal judge to launch a formal probe into possible prosecutorial misconduct that intentionally kept Black and Jewish people from juries presiding over those death penalty cases.

Price, the first Black woman to lead the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, made the announcement at a press conference and said that ​​Judge Vince Chhabria of the U.S. District Court of Northern California handed down the order.

“This is not about left or right or any kind of politics. This is about ethics,” Price said outside of the San Francisco Federal Building. “Prosecutors in the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office appeared to have intentionally excluded Jewish and Black jurors from death penalty cases.”

Price’s office uncovered the evidence in the racist coverup.

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The allegations surfaced during a review of the case against Ernest Dykes, who is on Death Row after being convicted of murdering 9-year-old Lance Clark in East Oakland in 1993 and injuring his grandmother Bernice Clark during a robbery attempt.

Price said her office found handwritten notes that show prosecutors purposely excluding Jewish and Black female jurors from the jury pool.

Brian Pomerantz, an attorney representing Dykes and several other Death Row inmates whose cases may be affected said, “This has been something that’s been going on in Alameda for – it’s been the worst kept secret.”

Racial justice organization Color of Change (COC) called the update “horrifying” and “unparalleled” in scope.

“The prosecutors and judges implicated in this scandal engaged in racist and antisemitic practices and sent people to their deaths,” Michael Collins, COC’s Senior Director of State and Local Government Affairs, said in a statement. “For too long, prosecutors have sought to win at all costs, even if it means engaging in constitutional violations, civil rights violations and antisemitic and racially disparate practices that result in people sentenced to death. We know of 35 people who will have their cases reviewed, and hopefully overturned, but there are likely many more.”

Alameda County has spent more than $14 million “seeking executions” since 2000, according to a fact sheet from the Alameda County Coalition for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.

“Alameda ranks 4th in total death sentences since 2000, while more and more homicides go unsolved,” the group also noted.

Data shows that 232 of California’s 665 death row inmates are Black. Statistics broken down by county were not immediately available.

As debates surrounding the ethics and efficacy of capital punishment persist, it is imperative to confront and address head-on the types of systemic injustices being alleged in Alameda County and across the country. Only through meaningful reforms aimed at eliminating racial bias and ensuring transparency and accountability can we hope to create a more just and equitable system of justice for all.


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The post California Prosecutors Kept Black And Jewish People Off Of Death Row Juries, Cases Under Review, DA Says appeared first on NewsOne.

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