Murder Appeal Raises Confederate Flag Issue

Nathan Koppel and Ashby Jones, Wall Street Journal, May 9, 2011

The Louisiana Supreme Court is expected to hear a novel argument Monday in the long-standing debate over the legacy of the Confederate flag: Is it so prejudicial that its presence at the courthouse justifies overturning a murder conviction?

{snip}

Felton Dorsey, an African American was sentenced to death in Shreveport, La., for killing Joe Prock, a white firefighter, during a robbery of the home of Mr. Prock’s mother.

Mr. Dorsey claims he is innocent and seeks to overturn the conviction on numerous grounds, including that prosecutors used unreliable accomplice testimony. But race is a central part of the appeal. Mr. Dorsey contends that prosecutors improperly removed most of the prospective black jurors from the case, resulting in a jury of 11 whites and one African American.

He claims to have suffered additional discrimination due to the Confederate flag that has flown outside the Caddo Parish courthouse in Shreveport since 1951.

{snip}

Protests followed a decision last month from the board of commissioners in Dodge County, Ga., to fly the flag year-round outside the courthouse in honor of Confederate soldiers. Dodge County commissioner Archie Dupree Sr. declined to comment. In Palestine, Texas, a similar controversy arose last month after a county board of commissioners approved hoisting the flag outside a local courthouse; it was later taken down following complaints.

{snip}

But it is rare, if not unprecedented, to claim that the flag justifies overturning a death sentence, they say, because it is difficult to find case-specific evidence that the flag had a discriminatory impact on a conviction.

Mr. Dorsey’s legal team believes it has just such evidence–the transcript of the jury selection in the case.

Carl Staples, a prospective black juror, was struck from the case by prosecutors after complaining about the flag.

The flag “is a symbol of one of the most . . . heinous crimes ever committed,” Mr. Staples said, according to court briefs. “You’re here for justice and then again you overlook this great injustice by continuing to fly this flag,” he added, calling the flag “salt in the wounds of . . . people of color.”

“When I was screened for the jury, it welled up inside of me and I expressed my feelings,” Mr. Staples said in an interview. A part-time radio engineer and announcer in Shreveport, he said, “I don’t understand how judges or lawyers allowed that flag to stand.”

{snip}

The American Civil Liberties Union, the NAACP’s Shreveport Chapter, and a group of university professors filed a court brief supporting Mr. Dorsey’s claim that the Confederate flag prejudiced his case and violated his due-process rights.

“This case will give the Louisiana Supreme Court an opportunity to send a message that a Confederate flag on courthouse grounds is intolerable,” said ACLU attorney Anna Arceneaux.

{snip}

Charles McMichael, a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, a Tennessee-based group that seeks to preserve the legacy of Confederate veterans, called it “idiotic” for Mr. Dorsey to try use the flag to overturn his conviction.

{snip}

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  • Eric

    “Mr. Dorsey contends that prosecutors improperly removed most of the prospective black jurors from the case”

    There you have it. This black murderer knows that blacks will set other blacks free if there are enough of them on the jury. Black racism is completely destroying the trial by jury justice system. Many prosecutors in black dominated areas must plead every case because they know that getting a fair trial from a jury full of blacks is a waste of time.

  • Anonymous

    Said this before. If -both sides- of the prosecutorial and defense teams can disqualify a certain number of jurors without comment and at least debate with the judge any subsequent juror selections _indefinitely_, the fact that there were something like 11+1 whites and blacks should tell you that:

    1. The Defense didn’t have any problem with a majority white jury and the majority white jury didn’t care about the flag because none of them thought it ‘a heinous crime’.

    2. The Defense didn’t think the problem serious enough to request a change of venue.

    What _really_ ticks me off is that NO ONE, ANYWHERE, is debating whether or not there were actual, substantive, technical flaws in the case, on the defense, prosecutorial or judicial sides, that merit the case being retried or the conviction overturned.

    WHERE, praytell, is news team that asks the _victim’s relatives_ what they think of a flag outside a courthouse that condemned the man who murdered their own?

    Here is the reality of what Mr. Dorsey did-

    >

    Sentenced to death on July 7, 2009, in the murder of 51-year-old Fire Captain Joe Prock on April 1, 2006. Trial testimony detailed how the 35-year-old Dorsey and accomplice Randy Wilson knocked Prock to the floor, then beat him with a pistol butt as his mother sat nearby, bound with her face covered but able to hear her son’s anguished cries. The robbers then set Prock’s body and the house in Greenwood on fire before leaving.

    >

    http://goo.gl/SIiBv

    Such wonderful people…

  • Anonymous

    If whites could rally in the streets over the death of Osama Bin Laden, then surely they can get out in the street for the right to fly a heritage flag.

  • Cliff Yablonski

    This is from a news item describing the murder that took place:

    “Joe Prock, 52, was murdered three years ago after he walked in on a robbery at his mother’s home on Greenwood-Springridge Road. Prock, who had been a captain at one of Caddo Parish’s rural fire districts, was beaten and set on fire. His mother, who had been tied up and a blanket placed over her head, heard the attack on her son, Caddo sheriff’s investigators said. ”

    Somehow a confederate flag somewhere is cause to exhonerate this barbaric act?

  • Question Diversity

    1 Eric:

    You’re right, but what is going to happen eventually is that the defendants and their lawyers won’t negotiate plea deals, because they know that the jury will never convict. The only reason plea deals work is that the defendant fears a jury. Remove the fear of a jury trial and the prosecution has no hammer.

  • Spartan24

    From what I understand the property the memorial is actually standing on is privately owned by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. Therefore the lawsuit really has no merit since the memorial is on private property and not on courthouse grounds. I would also hate to be part of a minority that is so undone by a piece of granite and fabric that I totally lose all sensible thought when I am confronted by it.

  • GetBackJack

    #3 Anaonymous

    In a society where culture and pride ruled the roost, they would. But in a society filled with decadence, self-centeredness, and a willingness to do anything to fit in, propaganda rules. American is the latter in a big, big way.

  • Dixie Guards, Florida!

    In many of the Episcopal churches in Florida (other Gulf states, as well) you will see in the nave or parish hall a display of all the national flags the governed the area: France, Spain, England, America, Confederate.

    These are all visible in the Episcopal Cathedral in Orlando, so, of course, one of the White Reverends there came up with this “perversity of justice,” as a black would say; but it’s really just the truth about White liberal elites and their vileness which we crave of nature and nature’s God to punish. Blacks will say that this is what you get when you allow a Confederate flag to hang over the pews where Whites pray to their White Christ; we call it indispensable race realism- he almost sounds like a current day Rev. Jared Taylor:

    http://goo.gl/pHGES

    No one criticizes the Black churches for not being two-thirds White, or Greek churches for not having more non-Greeks than Greeks, or Hispanic churches for not being 85% non-Hispanic. That would be absurd. Human beings as social creatures are not like that. Modern churches from the beginning have been small societies within a broader melting pot of nationalities and races. The metaphor of the extended family comes to mind, where members are brothers and sisters in a world where friends are scarce and social predators abound.

    In the 1980s when church growth apologist Peter Wagner observed the truism that people like to go to church with people similar to themselves, he was branded a racist, but only because he was White. These same critics made no effort to call out their Black counterparts. White church bureaucrats were redeeming themselves by indulging in utopian fantasies, imagining that they were crafting the church that never has existed in the world of real people, not this side of the Apocalypse. It never has existed because no one would join it, least of all themselves.

    In order to retain their (unjustly gained) prominence as social commentators and moralist White church leaders have had to pretend to repudiate their whiteness in public and “symbolize” the transformation of society into the latest fashionable experiment to emerge from the exclusive laboratories of academia. Minority populations have learned to insist upon this, even while their own religious societies remain the most exclusive of all.

    The question becomes, what do “diversity” and “inclusiveness” mean spoken by a group that is predominantly upper-middle class, affluent, and lily-white? What sort of “forked tongue” is this? Even if our leaders are sincere in proclaiming their openness to all sorts and conditions of people, the social realities that maintain the exclusiveness of The Episcopal Church are no different than they ever were. They are part and parcel of the social system of which we are a part. The same social reality that predicts TEC’s constituency to be above average in education and income is the same one that determines her to be 86% white.

    What does it mean for these people to talk about diversity, inclusiveness, advocacy, justice, and all the rest? It means they’ve been dislodged from their former position of dominance in society, even if they still own most of the toys. Furthermore — and this is key — it is this former dominance that they seek to recover through the radical sloganeering and lip-service of the past four decades. They play at being “symbolic” revolutionaries, all the while boasting the same exclusive address, the same pedigree, the same exclusive resume, and the same associations and friends (with a few “token” differences, of course).

    Episcopalians talk justice and advocacy to maintain and justify their exclusiveness, not as part of a strategy to recruit those who have previously been excluded. Why should we recruit non-Anglo-Americans into our churches? What’s in it for them? Ironically, nothing demonstrates more clearly the impulse to justify our own status quo than the rush to “include” others, particularly those who have expressed no desire to be included. (Did we ever ask?) If we were really breaking down barriers, they would have been broken down long ago. As the numbers prove, the invisible barriers that make up the systemic exclusiveness of our group are very much in place. Only God can break them down, and only at the time and in the way He chooses.

  • Tom S.

    *Mr. Dorsey contends that prosecutors improperly removed most of the prospective black jurors from the case, resulting in a jury of 11 whites and one African American.

    Aren’t we ‘taught’ that race dosen’t matter, that we’re all the same? So then what difference does it make what color the jury is? This thug knows that the more black jurors, the greater the chance of him going free.

    Some on here may not agree with me – BUT – I say Whites start doing the same, tell the lawyers what they want to hear, get on the jury and refuse to convict a White charged with a crime on blacks, especially the so called “neo nazi” that was just trying to protect him and his from the black ‘victim’ when the ‘crime’ took place. It amazes me when I hear how blacks will browbeat the White jurors to get them to vote not guilty for a “brotha” whose obviously guilty. God help them if I get on a jury and they try that nonsense on me!

    *The flag “is a symbol of one of the most . . . heinous crimes ever committed,” Mr. Staples said,-

    Oh get off the slavery gravy train already you idiot! Did you know that this “heinous crime” is STILL going on in your beloved motherland Africa? Wheres your concern on THAT? You obviously just see a ‘ghetto lottery’ coming out of this.

    *“This case will give the Louisiana Supreme Court an opportunity to send a message that a Confederate flag on courthouse grounds is intolerable,” said ACLU attorney Anna Arceneaux.

    Send a message to WHO? And just who are YOU Ms. Arceneaux to determine whats “intolerable” to the rest of us? I don’t remember giving you my permission to determine whats considered “intolerable” to me.

    You know, if “the blacks” would spend as much time and effort on the REAL issues affecting them as a people – out of wedlock births, high drop out rates, crime, trash filled ghettos, the high % of basically useless illiterates among them etc., they’d be alot better off. But, as usual, their intense racisim drives them to go after Whitey over the most trivial things instead. They choose vengeance over prosperity. Thats why they’ll always be at the bottom wherever they are.

  • Wayne Engle

    The Confederate flag issue has become a handy stick with which to “beat Whitey.” Militant blacks and their pointy-headed White liberal allies cannot stand the thought of White people showing racial pride and standing up for their rights, as every other race in this country is allowed to do. So they have seized on the matter of the Confederate flag to shut off all references to the Civil War (or War Between the States) that doesn’t agree with their viewpoint on it.

    As a court reporter for my local newspaper for many years, I sat through many jury selections. Both prosecutor and defense attorney have a chance to remove potential jurors. If the defense attorney wanted a jury more friendly to her client, why didn’t she use her allotment of “removals” to trim down the number of Whites in the jury pool? Sounds more like incompetence on the part of the defense attorney than “bias” to me.

  • fred

    This appeal only mildly concerns the Confederate flag. The real issue is the NAACP and ACLU using the deep pockets afforded by their donors to subvert justice and push a socio-political agenda via the judicial system.

  • AnalogMan

    “This case will give the Louisiana Supreme Court an opportunity to send a message that a Confederate flag on courthouse grounds is intolerable,” said ACLU attorney Anna Arceneaux.

    This is the real objective, and they’re willing to release a murderer to do it.

    This whole argument is pure race-card and has no merit at all. See Newsbusters’ analysis, including transcripts.

  • Kenelm Digby

    It’s gett ing beyond a joke and beyond shameless defence lawyer mendacity.It’s verging on Nazi persecution of Jews in 1930s Germany, yes really the idea and the memes are the same.The whole idea seems to be that balcks are legally priveleged ‘supermen’ who can pick off Whites at will as much as a farmer shoots hares at will.Furthermore certain symbols associated with Whites seem to be regarded by the poloitical class and elitists as a Mark of Cain, an open and justified incitement to kill and maim with impunity.

    The political class have decreed that their pet supermen must be allowed to drink White blood at their leisure.

  • Anonymous

    Is it [the Confederate flag] so prejudicial that its presence at the courthouse justifies overturning a murder conviction?

    Is a flag “prejudicial”? A flag is an inanimate object. A flag can no more be prejudicial than a tin can or a rubber tire. This is “Anthropomorphism Gone Wild!”

    Related: The following anecdote should give some idea of how far the “political center” has been dragged to the left — and how “normal” and “acceptable” have been redefined — over the past couple of decades:

    As a callow college-boy in the 1980s, I once picked up oncampus some grubby tabloid put out by some Communist or Revolutionary Socialist party or other. The pamphlet’s cover story was about one of their black comrades somewhere in the South, who had “heroically” climbed up on the roof of some govt building, and ripped down the Confederate flag. Beside the article were black-and-white photos of him in action up on the roof with a knife. His purpose was, he claimed, to rid govt buildings of this “racist symbol of oppression and slavery”, etc.

    This was the first time I’d been confronted by the idea that the Stars and Bars could remain — well over a century after the end of the Confederacy — so “offensive” and “hurtful” to blacks, that the more radical among them would even risk arrest in order to remove it. The commie paper, of course, cheered the flag-vandal as a brave Son of the Revolution who was striking a blow for equality, and so on.

    Fast-forward to today, and the same silly argument — that a piece of colored cloth can possess some sort of mystical powers that act like Kryptonite to Africans, and turn white jurors into raging bigots — has progressed from the pages of the fringe literature of far-left kooks, to the point of social acceptability where it can be offered up in a court of law as some sort of alibi, or excuse, or extenuating circumstance, for a crime as serious as HOMICIDE.

  • Bernie

    “Felton Dorsey, an African American was sentenced to death in Shreveport, La., for killing Joe Prock, a white firefighter, during a robbery of the home of Mr. Prock’s mother.”

    A black kills and robs innocent white people and they are talking about white “racism.”

  • SKIP

    “claim that the Confederate flag prejudiced his case and violated his due-process rights”

    And as we all know, Mr. Prock had quite a lot more than his “due process” rights taken from him. SKIP the psychic predicts……the verdict will be thrown out and LARGE SUMS OF MONEY will be handed to this murderer.

  • John Engelman

    The argument that Felton Dorsey should not be executed because of a Confederate flag is so legally trivial it reminds me of an earlier case I read about.

    The defense attorney of a condemned man said his client should not be executed because capital punishment discriminates against blacks. The condemned man was white.

  • Mark Randolph

    If the NAACP lived in Africa for one month they would wish they had a Rebel flag to look at! How can a flag offend the people that commit the most crimes in America? They should just get over it! That’s what we heard for decades after our race had 600,000 dead and 500,000 crippled for life. That is worse than making black guys work and live with a black woman.

  • Anonymous

    Again any white person who thinks that this only applies to the Confederate flag is naive. Once whites accept and agree the Confederate flag is ‘racist’ it is just a small step to the American flag and all the founders and much of our history also being racist and they must be banished and disparaged.

  • white is right, black is whack

    Yes, a mere object (in this case, a flag) directly holds someone back in life. Certainly would have nothing to do with having a chip on their shoulder, having kids with every woman they sleep with and not taking care of them. Certainly would have nothing to do with dropping out of school and turning to a life of crime. Nope, it’s all the white man’s fault.

  • Question Diversity

    Like I said in the first AR story on this subject a few days ago, the physical plant managers of this court house (as it turns out, thanks to Spartan24, it’s really a private UDC memorial near the court house), must have a secret account with a secret factory that makes Confederate Flags that are self-aware and sentient, and more than that, have enough power to hypnotize people who get near it, including other black people, to vote to kill black men if they’re on a jury.

  • BannerRWB

    In concert with 19-Anon: It appears many Blacks already disparage or wish to banish our founding fathers, and with the liberal education being presented in all of our schools, many White children are coming out with the same thoughts. Honestly though, I believe such a path is something we should look at as maybe being the best possible hope for the White population in America. In other words, if the liberals succeed in defeating America from within, what then do we have at the point of defeat? There will have to be a wholly new nation, with a new multicultural constitution, signed by a multicultural group of leaders. I believe it would be at that point that ethno-nationalism would reach into the minds of everyone and we could secure a White nation of some sort. Otherwise, we contine down the path of mass immigration and the further destruction of the White world. I believe America as a place for a White homeland has already been defeated, and we thus have to look to the future moreso than the past if we are going to survive as a race past the next couple hundred years.

  • Texas Rebel

    The flag really stands for political concepts that, frankly, scare the hell out of the far left. Lets face it, many whites, and more especially white southerners are finally waking up to the fact that reconstruction didn’t end in the 1870s. LBJ, Earl Warren and other leftist politicos gave it new life in the 50s and 60s. Confederate Veterans and monument after monument on court house squares assert the fact that they were fighting for the same principles that their patriot forebears were fighting for in 1776.

    Socialist ideology can’t flourish in an atmosphere of intense individualism and traditional patriotism. The people that scream the loudest about how offensive the flag is are the ones that benefit the most when government takes a a sharp swing to the left.