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Jewish Potential Jurors Excluded in California Death Penalty Cases

A New York Times article (gift article link here) that came out today (5/13/24) details possible antisemitic discrimination in Alameda County. The subtitle reads: “Dozens of cases are under review after notes from jury selection in a 1990s murder case indicated that prosecutors worked to exclude Jews.”

The article discusses the death penalty case of Ernest Dykes:

Weighing who should be struck from the jury pool and who should be kept, a prosecutor made notes about a prospective juror:

“I liked him better than any other Jew but no way.”

Other notes about prospective jurors bore evidence of similar prejudice:

“Banker. Jew?” read one.

“Jew? Yes,” read another.

The notes — just handwritten scribbles — were discovered recently in an internal case file from the 1990s when Mr. [Ernest] Dykes was convicted of murder and sent to death row. A federal judge who is weighing an appeal by Mr. Dykes told the Alameda County District Attorney’s office to conduct a top-to-bottom search for any additional documents, and that search turned up the notes, which are now in the hands of the judge.

Note: There are photos of some of these notes included in the article.
The article continued:

The federal judge weighing his appeal has ordered a review of all California capital cases in which a defendant from Alameda County is still on death row. The county includes Oakland, Berkeley and a host of other Bay Area communities.

The inquiry, which may involve as many as 35 cases from as far back as 1977, is just getting underway. But the district attorney’s office says it has already found evidence that the discriminatory practice was widespread for decades and involved numerous prosecutors.

This has been a problem in California. The New York Times wrote in 2005 about antisemitic issues in the death penalty case of Fred H. Freeman (gift article link here). The article reads:

Mr. [John R.] Quatman, who worked for 26 years as a deputy district attorney and prosecuted the case, said the trial judge, Stanley Golde, advised him during jury selection that “no Jew would vote to send a defendant to the gas chamber.”

“Judge Golde was only telling me what I already should have known to do,” Mr. Quatman’s statement said. “It was standard practice to exclude Jewish jurors in death cases.”

Edit: Quote formatting.

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Source: Reditt

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