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The Arizona Assault Defense Attorney’s Problem with Jury Bias and Hate Crime

Jury selection can be a complicated component in the defense strategy of an assault defense attorney in Arizona. A recent case brought up a string or jury excuses that were far from run of the mill, many of them relating to racial tension and the issue of illegal immigration. Out of a selection of 130 perspective jurors, only 5 were selected and the rest were excused. Either they didn’t meet the requirements of the prosecution, or they posed legitimate concern to the assault defense attorney of the accused.

The case involved Jeffrey Conroy, 19, who had been accused of killing Marcelo Lucero, a 37 year old Ecuadorian immigrant who had been stabbed to death in a hate crime. Lucero was attacked by 7 teenagers who allegedly made a sport of targeting immigrants. Lucero’s death prompted outrage and exposed the racial tensions of region, and many Latinos came forward to speak out about a string of muggings that had been aimed at Hispanics in the area. It created a scenario that made it hard for his assault defense attorney to find an unbiased jury which to try him.

As Conroy went on trial, jury selection proved difficult, partly because of the views on immigration that were held by some perspective members of the jury, as well as those who might have been motivated out of racial concerns. Certain points of jury selection had the sound of a call in talk radio show as perspective jurors were interviewed by the prosecution and the assault defense attorney.

Most of the jury responses answered questions posed by Justice Doyle. He pointed out that some testimony would be provided by illegal immigrants, and that the potential witnesses that have been named in court include some or all of the other men who participated in the attack and have since pleaded guilty.

Several potential jurors were dismissed because they had strong views on illegal immigration and would be unable to respond in an unbiased way, a dismissal made in the interest of the prosecution. Others were excused because they had Hispanic family members or were Hispanic themselves and might therefore side with the victim and his family in a way that prevented an unbiased viewpoint, a dismissal made in the interest of the assault defense attorney.

Still others stated they had followed the case in the news, and had already formed sound judgments as to Conroy’s guilt or innocence.

For example, one man confided that he grew up in a racist environment and that he doubted his ability to render a fair and impartial decision. Another had been the victim of verbal abuse aimed at his Puerto Rican heritage, which he allowed could affect the decision he made in the jury box.

Plus, as any assault defense attorney realizes, people often answer jury questions in an effort to appear to have a bias, simply to get out of serving on a jury. Jury duty isn’t as exciting as a courtroom drama on television. While serving on a jury may be a citizenship duty, it is no picnic.

These are challenges that are always presented in any case to an assault defense attorney of Arizona and prosecution team in finding an unbiased jury, but they become even greater in the instance of hate crime that involves racial issues.

About the Author
David Michael Cantor is an AV rated (the highest possible rating) lawyer and a Certified Criminal Law Specialist per the Arizona Board of Legal Specialization. For more information about an Arizona assault defense attorney, visit our site.

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