Was Kent County Man’s 2002 Rape Conviction Tainted by Jury Pool With Too Few Blacks? State High Court to Decide

Barton Deiters, Grand Rapids Press, May 19, 2011

The Michigan Supreme Court will consider whether a man convicted of raping a woman at gun-point received a fair trial in 2002–a time when many minorities were being excluded from jury pools in Kent County.

Ramon Bryant, 26, has been in prison for nine years after he was sentenced to 12 to 35 years for the rape and armed robbery he was convicted of committing at the age of 16.

At trial, Bryant’s attorney argued that only one of 45 prospective jurors was black, too few for adequate representation.

Bryant’s trial came during a period when a computer programming glitch, identified in subsequent years, caused problems in the jury-pool selection process.

For 16 months between 2001 and 2002, the program selected a disproportionately small number of jurors with lower ZIP codes, which tend to have high minority populations.

Last year, the state appeals court ordered a new trial for Bryant, saying it was “irrelevant that the problem with the computer program failing to select jurors across all ZIP codes does not appear to be intentional.”

The appeals court panel ruled that what matters is the effect upon the prosecution of Bryant and he is entitled to a new trial.

{snip}

Kent County Assistant Prosecutor Timothy McMorrow {snip} said that the over all jury pool makeup was supposed to include a minority portion of about 8.6 percent, but because of the alleged computer glitch, minorities were reduced to around 4.3 percent.

In the case of Bryant, where police said the teen held a gun to a woman’s head and raped her after she went with him to buy crack cocaine, there was only one African-American juror out of a pool of 45 potential jurors.

{snip}

{snip} There are cases making their way through the federal court system and it is possible a case will end up in the U.S. Supreme Court.

{snip}

“Nobody has the right to have a jury made up of a particular group,” said McMorrow.

“Are we going to say that African-American jurors are more likely to find a defendant not guilty?”

{snip}

bryant

Ramon Bryant.

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  • Bandmo

    “Are we going to say that African-American jurors are more likely to find a defendant not guilty?” Only if the victim is White.

  • Question Diversity

    “Nobody has the right to have a jury made up of a particular group,” said McMorrow.

    Unfortunately, Federal civil rights law almost states otherwise. While it does not guarantee that black defendants must have at least one black juror, it disallows prosecutors from suing preemptory challenges against prospective black jurors.

    “Are we going to say that African-American jurors are more likely to find a defendant not guilty?”

    I don’t know about you, or anyone else, but I will say that, because I believe it, and I believe it through years of observation.

  • sbuffalonative

    When a white criminal is caught, it’s rare that the white community defends such a man for his crimes.

    In black communities, it doesn’t seem to bother blacks what crimes blacks commit, only that they are ‘victims’ of racism or the prison industrial complex.

    If he committed this crime in a black neighborhood and his victim was black and if they want him out so he can re-offend in their community and destroy more lives, I say, they can have him.

    These people create their own nightmare neighborhoods.

  • WASP

    Hasn’t he heard, there is no such thing as race.

    I wish I was on the jury, and the judge, I would know what to do with him.

    I’d be 10 bucks his rape victim was white.

    When Kwame Kilpatric was on trial in Detroit he also complained that not enough blacks were on the jury. Wayne county prosecutor Kim Worthy (also black) replied by saying that they send out the jury summons and blacks just don’t show up like whites do. So, she has no control how many blacks get in the jury selection process unless she goes out and arrests them for not showing up for jury duty.

  • Anonymous

    “Are we going to say that African-American jurors are more likely to find a defendant not guilty?”

    LOL….is he joking? Ask OJ Simpson that question.

  • Anonymous

    I guess I’ll be the odd one out here.

    1. I _still_ don’t believe sentencing people to extraordinary jail sentences makes them better people or provides and example to discourage others. A functional death penalty does. 12-35 years only punishes the taxpayer.

    2. I don’t have much sympathy for a woman, white or otherwise, who associates with a black male for any purposes, least of all the purchase of contraband narcotics.

    3. This is Michigan, home of Detroit. It wasn’t a programming mistake, it was likely the only way to get adequate protection for white citizens in a black majority city. Short of revenuing the every black on white case, it probably still is

    I believe that, _in fairness_, we ought to give people 3 chances to prove they are not pathological recidivist criminals. I believe that we should issue concealed carry permits to people whose psyche and criminal background checks, along with intial firearms training and annual recertification tests, prove that they can use a pistol responsibly.

    We are not a nation of sheep. Our government is useless to us. We must protect ourselves.

    The sooner X gets out and recommits, the faster they march towards that needle. Or a civilian’s well aimed bullet.

    I care not which.

  • Seneca the Younger

    “Are we going to say that African-American jurors are more likely to find a defendant not guilty?”

    If the defendant is black, absolutely. I’m not sure if anyone that reads this lives around or follows Detroit politics, but remember all those cases against the former mayor Kilpatrick and his cronies? They all get 11-1 locks because one token blaack on the jury refused to convict. An employee of my mother’s was even one on there and she confirmed this.

    Court cases in southeast Michigan always have the same ending. If it is black on white crimes, be it rape, murder, etc. than there is ALWAYS a plea. Prosecutors know they can’t fully convict blacks if the victim is white. Hopefully blacks will never figure this out. If they demand a trial by jury every time they’ll never see prison.

  • d=a

    Too few blax on the jury? Whatever happened to “colorblind” types? Why would the number of blaqs on the jury affect due process when all evidence is presented? Unless… the blacks on juries refuse to convict one of their own and the defendant is unhappy about not getting away with it. Why else would fewer blacks constitute an unfair trial? Justice is supposed to be blind!

  • Anonymous

    After OJ Simpson’s acquittal, prosecutor Marcia Clark publicly stated that no majority black jury would convict a black defendant for murdering a white.

    She then backpedaled, pretended she’d never said it.

    But she did say it, and it is true.

    Black juries consistently refused to convict blacks for injuring or killing whites.

    This is a conscious political strategy, known as “jury nullification,” and is discussed constantly among blacks.

    Only Stupid, Stupid, Stupid, Stupid, Stupid, Stupid White People are unaware of the fact that blacks practice, discuss, analyze, write articles, and debate jury nullification all the time.

    Essentially, the black community has made the jury system unworkable.

    In all fairness, whites have probably acquitted whites for telling blacks, in full knowledge that the defendant was guilty.

    Perhaps the jury trial can only function well in a monoracial society.

  • rjp

    …… the teen held a gun to a woman’s head and raped her after she went with him to buy crack cocaine ……

    Seemed like a good idea at the time?

    I don’t think a dog would be safe from sexual activity in that situation ….

  • Bon, From the Land of Babble

    In the case of Bryant, where police said the teen held a gun to a woman’s head and raped her after she went with him to buy crack cocaine, there was only one African-American juror out of a pool of 45 potential jurors.

    Really, only one thing matters here, did Bryant commit the crime? Was the prosecutor able to convince a jury of any color that Bryant was and is guilty?

    Will a computer glitch and “racist, all-White jury” render the verdict null and void?

    The article and un-named trial attorney implies that ALL Whites are racist and “all-White” juries cannot render a fair judgement against a black. Blacks are only able to receive a fair verdict from other blacks.

    A better question for the jounalist to ask would be why blacks are so often defendants in rape and murder cases.

    Bon

  • Anonymous

    Actually Jeffrey Toobin of CNN (who was also a commentator for several high profile criminal trials, including the O.J. Simpson trial) was on television talking about this case.

    He stated that the conviction should be overturned due to the racial imbalance of the jury.

  • kgb

    At trial, Bryant’s attorney argued that only one of 45 prospective jurors was black, too few for adequate representation.

    Wasn’t there adequate representation of evidence? Was there

    DNA evidence from the victim? Did she pick him out of a line-up?

    Did the perp brag about it to his friends? Did the cops trick him into confessing?

    It’s a sign of this society’s sickness that such an argument can be taken seriously by a judge.

  • Question Diversity

    What I find strange is that they don’t tell us who the “non-black” prospective or real jurors were, and they certainly don’t tell us that they were white. There could have been a few Hispanics and Asians in there.

    I also object to the word “tainted” to refer to non-black jurors and their ability to render decisions. Do they want us to think that white, Hispanic and Asian jurors are so dumb that they can’t walk and chew gum at the same time, much less decide criminal guilt based on whether the prosecution has sold them beyond a reasonable doubt that he did what they accuse him of doing?