Dozens of Death Penalty Convictions in Alameda County Under Review for Jury Bias

Dozens of Death Penalty Convictions in Alameda County Under Review for Jury Bias

A federal judge has ordered a comprehensive review of dozens of death penalty convictions in Alameda County, California, after evidence emerged suggesting intentional exclusion of Black and Jewish jurors during a murder trial in 1995. The discovery of handwritten notes from prosecutors involved in the case of Earnest Dykes, who was convicted in 1993 for the death of a 9-year-old during an attempted robbery, has raised concerns of “serious misconduct” within the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office.

Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price revealed that the evidence uncovered so far indicates a broader pattern of excluding Black and Jewish jurors from murder trials, potentially impacting numerous cases. “It’s not limited to one or two prosecutors, but a variety of prosecutors,” Price stated during a news conference. The notes, which were made public by U.S. Federal Court District Judge Vince Chhabria, contained underlined references to the word “Jewish” in relation to a prospective juror.

This recent revelation is not the first instance of jury bias allegations in Alameda County. In 2006, the California Supreme Court rejected claims that an Alameda County Superior Court judge had advised a prosecutor to remove Jewish jurors from a death penalty trial. Such actions are prohibited as attorneys are not allowed to exclude jurors based on their race, gender, or religion.

The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office has identified 35 death penalty cases dating back to 1977 that are now under review. Price emphasized that if further issues are discovered, the review may expand to include other cases that did not involve death sentences. The scope of the review reflects the office’s commitment to ensuring fair trials and upholding ethical standards.

Civil rights advocacy organization Color Of Change, represented by senior director Michael Collins, expressed support for the review and commended Price for addressing the issue publicly. Collins called for the U.S. Department of Justice to initiate a civil rights investigation into the matter.

The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office is currently in discussions with Dykes’ attorneys to determine the appropriate course of action for his case. Dykes, who was convicted at the age of 20 for the murder of 9-year-old Lance Clark during an attempted robbery, has had his petition for case review pending in federal court for several years.

In response to the federal review order, the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office is reaching out to victims and survivors affected by the potential jury bias. Price acknowledged the gravity of the situation and expressed a commitment to rectifying any injustices.

It is important to note that California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a moratorium on the death penalty in 2019. However, numerous individuals remain on death row in the state.

Author: CrimeDoor

1 Response

  1. I remember reading about a similar case in Texas where there were concerns about racial bias in the jury selection process. In the case of Duane Buck, a Black man convicted of murder, his defense argued that his death sentence was influenced by racial stereotypes presented by an expert witness during the trial.

    The expert testified that Black defendants were more likely to pose a future danger to society, which is one of the factors considered in determining whether someone should receive the death penalty. This testimony was highly prejudicial and played

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