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Justices: Cop went too far in saying man’s race prevented a fair trial

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The Indiana Supreme Court had strong words for police officers who intentionally mislead a suspect as to his rights to a fair trial and impartial jury because of his race: The tactic is unacceptable.

“Despite nearly two hundred years of effort by civil rights activists, legislatures, law enforcement, courts, and others, the perception remains that racial discrimination still exists within our justice system: from police treatment to jury selection to jury verdicts and sentences. And the perception is especially common within the African-American community,” Justice Steven David wrote in McLynnerd Bond, Jr. v. State of Indiana, 45S03-1309-CR-597. “It defines reality for many African Americans faced with, serving in, or incarcerated by our criminal courts, and unquestionably has roots in our nation’s tortured history of race relations. That there remains such fear or mistrust of the justice system is why all courts must remain vigilant to eradicate any last vestiges of the days in which a person’s skin color defined their access to justice.”

McLynnerd Bond Jr. was in police custody on outstanding warrants when a Gary Police detective questioned him about a cold case murder. For three hours, Bond denied being involved with the murder. During questioning, the detective implied he wouldn’t get a fair trial because of his race. Bond later admitted committing the murder.

Both the trial court and Court of Appeals denied Bond’s motion to suppress his statement. Judge James Kirsch dissented.

“But with respect to the detective’s statement that Bond might not receive a fair trial because of his race and the likely composition of a prospective jury, our sentiment goes beyond the trial court’s ‘great concern’ and the Court of Appeals majority’s disapproval of it as being  ‘inappropriate.’ This is not a police tactic that we simply do not condone’ because it is deceptive,” David wrote. “Instead, this was an intentional misrepresentation of rights ensconced in the very fabric of our nation’s justice system—the rights to a fair trial and an impartial jury, and the right not to be judged by or for the color of your skin—carried out as leverage to convince a suspect in a criminal case that his only recourse was to forego his claim of innocence and confess. And like Judge Kirsch, we condemn it.”

“This country has waged a long and difficult campaign aimed at ensuring equal access to justice for all its citizens — a campaign whose courtroom aspect has been perhaps marked most visibly by the efforts to ban racial discrimination in jury selection after the enactment of the Fourteenth Amendment. Such a police interrogation technique as we see here flies in the face of those efforts by implying that they were all for naught,” he continued.

“The trial court below concluded that, despite its great concern, ‘there is no caselaw that the Court is aware of that holds that this type of persuasion renders the confession involuntary.’ We clearly understand the trial court’s predicament. But now there is.”
 

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  • needless invention of new rights
    Well the opinion says the cop said this:........ "[d]on’t let twelve people who are from Schererville, Crown Point—white people, Hispanic people, other people that aren’t from Gary, from your part of the hood—judge you. Because they’re not gonna put people on there who are from your neck of the woods. You know that. They’re not gonna be the ones to decide what happens to you. You know that. I know that. Everybody knows that. All they’re gonna see is, oh, look at this, another young motherf***** who didn’t give a f***."............ What's wrong with this comment? I don't get it. It says whites and Hispanics and people not from gary. so what ? suppressing this voluntary confession is unnecessary pandering. Here's another thing. I am aware of a white criminal defendant accused of a crime, who was intimidated into pleas with threats of a majority black jury pool. Will they have the same "equal opportunity" to claim violation of due process as this African American defendant did? (Seems unlikely) I just don't think it is practical that we will ever get away from certain differences in location and jury pool odds. Yet another example of vain social engineering and racial utopianism. This will end up being a judicially made-up right that is a protection afforded to blacks and not to whites and as such will fly in the face of the socalled equal protection that is presumably part of the whole equation to begin with.

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  1. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  2. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  3. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  4. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

  5. Can I get this form on line,if not where can I obtain one. I am eligible.

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