In January 2009, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit overturned a Texas defendant's conviction and death sentence because of racial bias by the prosecution in jury selection. Jonathan Bruce Reed, the defendant, had been convicted of murder in 1979 during a trial at which all five of the eligible African American potential jurors were excluded by the prosecution. The prosecution used its peremptory challenges to strike prospective African American jurors and then the state accepted several Caucasian jurors. The three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals ordered a new trial for Reed and concluded that the prosecution's alleged reasons for the removal of the prospective African American jurors were a pretext for discrimination.
Using the keywords "Reed v. Quarterman, No. 05-70046 (5th Cir. January 12, 2009)," search the Internet and read the court's decision on the Reed v. Quarterman case.
Although Jonathan Bruce Reed is Caucasian, why did the prosecution feel that African American jurors would be sympathetic to Reed?
In your opinion, should Reed be retried for his crime? Why or why not?
Reed was convicted on the testimony of three eyewitnesses (one who barely escaped death at his hands). In your opinion, should these witnesses be asked to testify again at the new trial? If yes, how reliable would their testimony be after thirty years?
In your opinion, what discrimination did Reed endure? How?
If Reed was an African American, would you feel differently about the discrimination? Why or why not