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Friday, September 07, 2007

Congressman Jefferson's Racial Sensitivities...

...are decidedly one-sided.

He has had his attorneys file a motion (subscription may be required) asking a federal judge to move his trial on corruption charges from Virginia to either the District of Columbia or to New Orleans. Jefferson's motive is to try to influence the likely racial make-up of the jury:
Lawyers for Rep. William Jefferson entered a motion in federal court today claiming prosecutors filed the corruption case against the Louisiana Democrat in a U.S. court in Virginia only to avoid the predominantly black jury pools that would be available to them in Washington, D.C., and New Orleans.

Jefferson's attorneys asked the court to order the case moved from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, and asked for an investigation of the decision-making process that led the Justice Department to file its charges there...

...Jefferson’s motion for change of venue argues that there is no reason for the case to be tried in Virginia, and that it appears “the prosecution used forum selection to affect the racial make-up of the jury in this case.”

The bulk of the alleged crimes took place in D.C., where Jefferson’s Congressional office is, or in New Orleans, where Jefferson resides. The primary connection to Virginia is that an FBI informant, at the direction of the FBI, invited Jefferson to Virginia for a meeting to hand over cash, the motion argues.

“The defendant is African American, and the government’s chosen venue has a markedly lower percentage of African Americans in the potential jury pool than the District of Columbia, where the case fairly belongs,” his lawyers wrote.
If Jefferson objects to the (alleged) practice of attempting to influence the racial make-up of a jury, why is he attempting to influence the racial make-up of a jury himself?

What constitutes a true "jury of his peers" when it comes to the trial of a Harvard-educated Member of Congress is an interesting question. Any given person may be black or white or Asian or some combination thereof, but that's not all he is.

More coverage of the story here.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:19 PM

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