Congressman Lamar Smith doesn’t think LGBT people should be allowed to serve on juries

Lamar Smith

Anti-gay Texas Republican Congressman Lamar Smith is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, which is reviewing a bill to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity for jurors.

Attorneys are not prohibited from discriminating based on sexual orientation and gender identity during jury selection by federal courts. The U.S. Department of Justice declined to take a position last year on whether Supreme Court rulings that prohibit removal based on race or sex should include sexual orientation.

A spokesman for Smith told the Colorado Independent that he has “no plans to move the bill at this time.”

The bill was introduced last month by Rep. Steve Rothman, D- New Jersey, and is co-sponsored by Rep. Susan Davis, D-California, and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat from the District of Columbia.

But Smith’s opposition to the bill means it is unlikely to get a hearing.

—  Dallasvoice

Jurors felt youth prison official was guilty but were swayed by ex-cop, lack of physical evidence

John Paul Hernandez

The Associated Press has an interesting follow-up about the trial of John Paul Hernandez, who was acquitted of charges that he sexually molested five inmates at the West Texas youth prison where he served as principal.

Basically, according to the AP, many jurors felt Hernandez was guilty, but they were persuaded by an ex-cop who raised questions about whether prosecutors had proven their case beyond a reasonable doubt, given that there was no physical evidence:

Nancy Gray told The Associated Press that the officer “did a lot of talking” about reasonable doubt to the eight who believed John Paul Hernandez was guilty when deliberations started.

“A lot of people changed their minds because he kept saying, pressing the point, that he had to be guilty beyond a reasonable doubt,” said Gray, who was the last to agree to the not guilty verdicts. “I was the holdout, all the way through. It was hard. That’s why it was very emotional for me.” …

Gray said jurors “absolutely” would have thought differently had there been physical evidence. Prosecutors presented no DNA, no fingerprints and no hair samples to back up the former inmates’ stories, though the jury believed each man had testified truthfully about having been abused by Hernandez.

Gray said deliberations grew testy at times and she unloaded her sentiments on the other jurors.

She said she told them: “‘You know this bastard is guilty’ and I was bawling. These boys are going to live with this the rest of their lives. Maybe they’ve done some bad things, but they didn’t deserve what happened to them.”

The Odessa American reports that nine of the 12 jurors initially wanted to convict Hernandez. And the AP says the verdict left one of Hernandez’s alleged victims stunned:

“I can’t believe this happened,” the young man, now 26, said in an e-mailed statement through his attorney. “What Mr. Hernandez did to me ruined my life. I told the jury the truth, and now I’ll never be able to get over what happened. When I broke the law, I went to TYC. When he broke the law, there was no consequence.”

—  John Wright

Jury deadlocked in trial of state trooper accused of slamming woman into concrete wall

UPDATE: Perez was found guilty of misdemeanor assault.

Back in October, John Wright posted this item here on Instant Tea about Texas State Trooper Arturo Perez who faced criminal charges after video taken during a traffic stop for suspected drunk driving surfaced of him slamming 23-year-old Whitney Fox face first into a concrete retaining wall on the Dallas North Tollway after finding out that Fox and her friends in the car with her were on their way home from a gay bar in Oak Lawn.

The Dallas Morning News has reported that jurors hearing the misdemeanor assault case against Perez in Judge Jane Roden’s court are deadlocked and unable to return a verdict. The jurors had been deliberating for about five hours total when, at noon Friday, they send the judge a note saying they were at an impasse.

DMN reports that Judge Roden was expected to tell the jurors to keep deliberating.

The incident in questioned happened in October 2009 after Perez stopped Fox on suspicion of drunk driving. He had cuffed the young woman’s wrists behind her and was patting her down when she began arguing with him about the way he was touching her. Perez told Fox several times as she argued with him that she was “fixing to get yourself hurt.”

Then Perez began leading Fox to his squad car, holding her left arm. When she tried to jerk away from him, Perez  jerked Fox’s arm in return, swinging her around and into the concrete.

Fox — who in the video is visibly stunned by the impact — was left with a large gash in her chin. As she collapsed to the ground, Perez walked away, leaving a second trooper to attend to Fox.

John’s post in October examined allegations  Fox’s attorney, Randy Isenberg, made to Fox 4 News in Dallas that Perez began handling Fox more roughly and slammed her into the wall after another young woman in Fox’s car said something about having left a gay bar in Oak Lawn. The implication, of course, was that Perez is homophobic and deliberately hurt Fox because he thought she is gay.

The incident was captured on video, posted below, by the dashcam in Perez’s squad car.

The Dallas County District Attorney initially charged Perez with official oppression in the case, but a grand jury refused to issue an indictment on the charge. The DA’s office then charged Perez with misdemeanor assault. Perez’s attorney, John Haring, told Fox 4 News this past October that the Texas Ranger had reviewed the video and concluded that Fox was resisting arrest and Perez was not at fault.

Perez retired shortly after the incident occurred, just before the Department of Public Safety could fire him. The DWI charges against Fox were dropped.

—  admin

Jury selection to start soon in trial of gay teen’s alleged killer

Associated Press

VENTURA, Calif. — A Ventura County judge has ruled that jurors from neighboring Santa Barbara County will be chosen for the upcoming trial of a teen accused of killing a gay classmate.

Superior Court Judge Charles Campbell said Monday, Aug. 23 that the trial of 16-year-old Brandon McInerney will remain in Ventura County. McInerney’s attorneys had been seeking a change of venue.

McInerney is charged with murdering 15-year-old Larry King in February 2008. He is being tried in adult court.

Campbell on Thursday, Aug. 26 will give more details about when jury selection will take place.

—  John Wright