Commonwealth v. Carter

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Court:
Commonwealth of Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
Issues: Fair Courts Project

The trial court erred by failing to examine the prosecution’s peremptory strikes - exclusion of prospective jurors without reason - of four Black jurors and two jurors perceived to be LGBTQ, denying Carter access to an impartial jury of his peers and subjecting those individual jurors to impermissible discrimination.

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Black and Pink MA, the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), and Lambda Legal filed a friend-of-the-court brief at the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court supporting defendant-appellant Antwan Carter’s call for reversal of a 2010 murder conviction on the basis of improper discrimination in jury selection at his trial.

The brief asserts that the trial court erred by failing to examine the prosecution’s peremptory strikes - exclusion of prospective jurors without reason - of four Black jurors and two jurors perceived to be LGBTQ, denying Carter access to an impartial jury of his peers and subjecting those individual jurors to impermissible discrimination. The amici organizations argue that peremptory jury strikes based on the presumed sexual orientation of the juror are prohibited under both the Massachusetts and Federal constitutions and that the trial court improperly relied on the inclusion of previously seated Black jurors to justify not examining the prosecution’s strikes of four other Black jurors.