Sam Sr. alleges race-based jury exclusion by prosecutors

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R. Kelly defense lawyer Sam Adam Sr. made frequent and vociferous objections to prosecutors' votes against minority jurors today.

Early this afternoon, the prosecution moved to dismiss a male black juror—his hair in cornrows like Kelly's—for cause. The man has an arrest record and has been in Cook County jail. While in jail, he was the subject of illegal testing and later took part in a class-action lawsuit.

"I think they're using these [challenges] to get rid of African-Americans," Adam said. "They're using the challenges for cause to get around Batson," referring to the U.S. Supreme Court decision Batson v. Kentucky, which prohibits excluding jurors based on race.

But Judge Vincent Gaughan was having none of it. "You haven't said anything about all the white males you've dismissed," the judge quipped.

Gaughan denied the prosecutors' motion for cause, forcing them to use one of their last peremptory strikes on the man. At that point, Adam Sr. stood up again and renewed his objection.

"They've used 50 percent of their challenges on African-Americans," he said. "We think that's a prima facie case right there."

Prosecutor Shauna Boliker responded that all six of the defense's peremptory challenges had removed white potential jurors.

"Oh, so just sheer numbers are a prima facie case?" Gaughan asked sarcastically.

Adam Sr. raised another Batson objection when prosecutors made a motion to dismiss another black male juror for cause. The man had apparently concealed a criminal record when filling out his jury questionnaire.

"We really can't trust the information on this questionnaire," Boliker said.

"Once again, it's another black juror they're trying to get rid of and not face the consequences of a Batson hearing," Adam Sr. said.

Gaughan sustained the state's motion to dismiss the juror for cause, based on the man's "dishonesty."

Prosecutors then used it last peremptory strike to get rid of an Asian woman who works as an operating room nurse. "She's a minority. They've exercised another challenge on a minority," Adam Sr. said.

Of the state's seven peremptory strikes, four were used against minorities, Adam Sr. said.

Boliker said the woman had health problems and that serving on the jury would amount to a hardship to her family. During questioning, "she was extremely nervous," Boliker said.

Of the 12 jurors selected, four are black.

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Obviously all that Sam Adams' contributed to the urine situation.

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R. Kelly on trial

The story of the allegations against R. Kelly started here in the Sun-Times. Almost six years later, it's now finally reached a trial.

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This page contains a single entry by Eric Herman published on May 15, 2008 2:23 PM.

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