Miami drug dealer wins a new trial because his jury had too many people with last names beginning with the letter "G"

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by glenn1, Jun 10, 2002.

  1. glenn1

    glenn1 Elite Member

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    Story link

    An accused Opa-locka drug dealer has won a new trial with an only-in-Miami argument: The jury pool contained too many people whose last names start with the letter ``G.''

    Of 38 potential jurors in the pool, 21 had surnames starting with ''G'' and 14 of those were of Hispanic origin: six Garcias, two Gomezes, two Gonzalezes, two Guerras, a Gutierrez and a Goldares.

    Quoting William Shakespeare and The White Pages, defense attorney David O. Markus persuaded a federal judge that the panel violated Roderick B. Carter's Sixth Amendment right to a jury comprised of his peers. Carter is black.

    ''There is no way Mr. Carter can get a fair cross section of the community. That's especially true in this case where the overwhelmingly majority of G surnames are Hispanic,'' Markus said.

    The jury pool featured one black man and five black women.

    Markus said he didn't rely on any fancy statistical analyses to bolster his point, just the phone book.

    The ''G'' section of the Miami White Pages is 80 pages long.

    According to Markus, more than half of those residential listing pages -- 43 to be exact -- are filled with just five surnames: 14 pages of Garcias, six pages of Gomezes, 18 pages of Gonzalezes, two pages of Guerras and three pages of Gutierrezes.

    The ''G-whiz'' mistrial argument is the latest twist in a case filled with them.

    Carter was arrested by Miami-Dade police in December in the Triangle, an area of Opa-locka known as an open-air drug market. Police said they watched Carter selling small quantities of crack cocaine and when they converged on him he tossed aside a loaded .40-caliber pistol.

    The weapon carried serious implications. Carter has two prior felony convictions: a 1999 conviction for selling two marijuana cigarettes and a 1992 adult conviction -- even though he was 14 -- for kidnapping and sexual battery.

    Police turned Carter over to the federal system, where penalties are markedly stiffer for convicted felons using weapons in drug crimes.

    Carter initially agreed to plead guilty in return for a maximum sentence in the four-year range but backed out at the last minute.

    APRIL FOOL START

    The trial started on April Fool's Day. The cornerstone of his defense: He wasn't selling drugs, and police planted the pistol. After a three-day trial, a jury acquitted him on the charges of selling drugs and using a gun in a drug crime.

    Jurors failed to reach a verdict on the charge of possession of a handgun by a convicted felon, forcing the new trial.

    Jury selection began May 24 before Magistrate Judge Stephen T. Brown, who was filling in for U.S. District Judge Adalberto Jordan.

    The magistrate received a list with 38 names.

    Markus objected when he saw all the G's, asking Brown to boot the pool. The magistrate refused. Markus and prosecutor John Delionado picked 12 jurors and two alternates -- including two Guerras, two Garcias, two Gonzalezes and a Guyton. But the jury did include three black women.

    Still aggravated, Markus raised the issue again with Judge Jordan right before opening statements on May 30.

    Markus used the phone book defense and quoted from Shakespeare's Richard III, where the title character deceives his brother, King Edward, into jailing a second brother whose name starts with a ''G'' -- George -- as part of a scheme to assume the throne.

    Jordan, of Cuban descent, agreed with Markus and declared a mistrial.

    A new trial date has not been set.



     
  2. squirrelman

    squirrelman Senior member

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    That has got to be one of the dumbest things I have ever heard. Well it figures its in Florida, if it wasnt Florida I would guess Texas.
     
  3. etalns

    etalns Diamond Member

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    lol @ legal sys.
     
  4. FoBoT

    FoBoT No Lifer

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    stupid judge
     
  5. Lucky

    Lucky Lifer

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    He was aquitted of the drug charges. The new trial only pertained to a weapons charge, and it was only ordered after the first jury couldnt reach a verdict.
     
  6. notfred

    notfred Lifer

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    True.

    And even if you don't agree with it, picking people in order of last name is hardly the best way to pick a jury. What if the phone book was sorted by address instead of name?. Say you were on trial for vandalism, and everyone picked for the jury was from the neighborhood where the alleged vandalism took place. Is that really fair?
     
  7. tcsenter

    tcsenter Lifer

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    OMG, it would be hilarious if the substantially "G-less" jury in his new trial convicted him of all charges. Be careful what you wish for...lol!
     
  8. Lucky

    Lucky Lifer

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    :p I was thinking the same thing, but they cant do that right? :Q I mean try him on the aquitted charges?
     
  9. Don Vito Corleone

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    Nope - that is double jeopardy, plain and simple.

     
  10. tcsenter

    tcsenter Lifer

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    Apparently, the jury he objected to was the one selected for the remaining charge; possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Unfortunately, he would not face the other charges again.
     
  11. Don Vito Corleone

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    It sounds to me as though the trial judge, Jordan, was being unduly wary of avoiding a potential appellate issue. The jury, as empaneled, sounds perfectly fair, but perhaps he was gun-shy of losing the sole remaining charge on appeal after seeing the United States lose the most serious charges (the drug offense and use of a firearm in the commission of a drug offense) in the initial trial.
     
  12. tcsenter

    tcsenter Lifer

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    But, there is hope...possession of a firearm by a convicted felon should not be a walk in the park if he is convicted, given his prior record there should be some stiff sentencing guidelines. That supposes he is convicted and the sentencing judge isn't one of those 'oh, he was raised in a broken home, its not his fault' types.
     
  13. Cyberian

    Cyberian Diamond Member

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    Well, he was convicted once before.
     
  14. Lucky

    Lucky Lifer

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    haha, well I guess technically he is one then. Didnt see that, although I dont know if I'd call someone who sold two joints a drug dealer. ;)
     
  15. Cyberian

    Cyberian Diamond Member

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    I certainly wouldn't either, but I guess that's the law we have to live with.
    Sure would be nice to see it changed to free up some manpower and money for more important law enforcement.