The Idaho Court of Appeals ruled this week that a prosecutor had inspired enough racism in jurors by citing a pro-slavery Civil War anthem to convince them to unfairly convict a black man.
While prosecuting James D. Kirk in 2013 for felony lewd conduct with a 17-year-old girl and sexual battery of a 13-year-old girl, Canyon County Deputy Prosecutor Erica Kallin paraphrased the lyrics to “Dixie” to make the point that defense attorneys were hoping that jurors would ignore certain evidence, the Idaho Statesmen reported.
“‘Oh I wish I was in the land of cotton. Good times not forgotten. Look away. Look away. Look away,'” Kallin told the jurors. “And isn’t that really what you’ve kind of been asked to do? Look away from the two eyewitnesses. Look away from the two victims. Look away from the nurse and her medical opinion. Look away. Look away.”
Kirk was eventually convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison.
During appeal, the state Attorney General’s Office argued that Kallin had not intended to use a racial strategy in her closing remarks. But the judge ruled that her intentions did not matter because Kirk could have been unfairly convicted if even one juror was swayed.
It her decision, Appeals Court Judge Karen Lansing wrote that the appeals court did “not require … articles or history books to recognize that ‘Dixie’ was an anthem of the Confederacy, an ode to the Old South, which references with praise a time and place of the most pernicious racism.”
“The prosecutor’s mention of the title, ‘Dixie,’ as well as the specific lyrics … referring to ‘the land of cotton,’ expressly evoke that setting with all its racial overtones,” Lansing said. “[T]he risk of prejudice to a defendant is magnified where the case is as sensitive as this one, involving alleged sexual molestation of minors. Although the state’s case here was a strong one, it was not so compelling that no rational juror could have voted to acquit.”
Canyon County spokesperson Joe Decker said that prosecutors would retry Kirk if the state Attorney General’s Office did not appeal the ruling to the Idaho Supreme Court.
Listen to audio of the prosecutor’s closing remarks below.
GOP lawmaker smacked down after suggesting impeachment is only for capital crimes
On Thursday's edition of MSNBC's "All In," Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY) tried to argue that impeachment is only intended for when presidents commit capital crimes — and was immediately corrected by anchor Chris Hayes.
"I saw an earlier interview you gave to Chuck Todd where you didn’t think this was, so far, from what you’ve heard of, the level of impeachable behavior," said Hayes. "I’m curious what you view the standard as the Constitution sets out for you as being high crimes and treason and misdemeanor."
"Crimes that are subject to the penalty of death is essentially what the Constitution is to me indicating with impeachment," said Reed. "And this whole claim of bribery, the American people aren’t stupid, Chris. This is not going to sustain the review of the American people, and they’re the ultimate ones who are going to judge this because I don’t see this becoming an impeachable subject to the removal of the president."
WATCH LIVE: Trump holds campaign rally to shore up GOP support in Louisiana
One day after the first televised impeachment hearing, President Donald Trump traveled to Louisiana for a campaign rally.
The rally is being held at the CenturyLink Center in Bossier City, which has a 14,000 seat capacity.
On Saturday, November 16th, voters will travel to the pools to choose between Governor John Bel Edwards (D-LA) and Trump's pick, Republican businessman Eddie Rispone.
Former GOP lawmaker criticizes his party’s impeachment stance: They ‘seem to be okay with not knowing all the facts’
On Thursday's edition of CNN's "OutFront," former FBI official and Nevada Republican state Sen. Greg Brower broke down one of his key frustrations with how his party is handling the impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump.
"I'm a Republican who has never agreed with everything in the Republican Party platform. Most of it I did, and that's why I was a Republican elected official, and felt comfortable as one, but things have changed," said Brower. "I guess what I'm most surprised at is the number of Republicans, both in Congress and just out there in the country, who seem to be okay with not knowing all the facts, who seem to be okay with the president directing witnesses who clearly have information relevant to this inquiry, directing them to not cooperate and testify."