A juror won a new trial for two African-American defendants when he stood up in front of a Nashville courtroom and called out the fact there were no black jurors seated to hear their case, the Tennessean reports.
Police have accused two men, Terance Bradley, and Hurley Brown, of attacking two people during a fight in which gunshots were fired and two men were injured. Both men have pleaded not guilty to charges of burglary, assault with a deadly weapon and possessing weapons while felons. Both men have been held in-custody for 18 months awaiting their trial.
Mary Hamilton and Tiffany Steele, the grandmother and mother of Bradley and Brown, respectively, both expressed outrage after watching prosecutors dismiss every black juror in the pool.
The women said prosecutors dismissed only one white juror. Then they nixed every eligible black juror who was called up from the larger pool.
“It was disgusting. It was irritating,” Steele told the paper. Hamilton agreed it wasn’t fair for the men to face a jury that contained not a single person of their own race.
“There’s still prejudice out there,” Hamilton told the Tennessean. “I don’t care what anyone says.”
While the jury was dismissed on a technicality, the incident has raised the issue of race and juries, the Tennessean reports.
Judge Cheryl Blackburn told the Tennessean she dismissed the jury because they ignored her instructions not to discuss the case before hearing all the evidence. And while the move resulted in further delays for the men’s trial, their family members do not believe they would have gotten a fair trial with that jury.
“There was an angel in the courtroom that day,” Steele told the paper. “Good for him for speaking up.”