Commonwealth v. Carter
Exclusion of jurors based on race and being LGBTQ violated jurors’ rights and denied defendant a fair trial.
UPDATE – August 16, 2021: The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that LGBTQ people must be protected from discrimination in jury selection and reaffirmed that challenges to discriminatory strikes on the basis of race or any protected class must be addressed individually. Learn more and read the opinion here.
GLAD, together with Black and Pink Massachusetts, the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice, and Lambda Legal filed a friend-of-the-court brief in Commonwealth v. Antwan Carter in support of 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 failed 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 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.