Superior Court Judge Joan Weber slammed prosecutors in San Diego on Tuesday for allegedly striking a potential juror from a trial because he is gay. However, prosecutors insist that the juror was struck because he admitted to previously protesting in favor of gay rights in a case involving gay protesters. Weber called the San Diego City Attorney’s Office move to block the juror as “shocking,” but if the prosecutors are telling the truth, is it so unreasonable to bar such an individual from a jury based on past similar conduct?
Weber tossed out the entire jury in light of the strike.
Prosecutors said the potential juror indicated in a questionnaire that he had protested in support of gay rights issues in the past. Since the six defendants are charged in the case unlawfully blocked the operation of the county clerk’s office during such a protest, the prosecutors felt the juror would not be fair or unbiased.
I entirely agree with Weber that striking a juror based on sexual orientation would be outrageous. However, if the merits concern conduct that the jurors has engaged in, would the strike be so outrageous? There are a couple of details, I think, that would have to be answered. One is whether the juror engaged in unlawful or unpermitted protests. Another is whether the subject was the same, involving same-sex marriage.
An even more pressing question is why the City Attorney is expending money on this case, including a jury trial? Weber noted “I’ve never had so many jurors express concerns about why a prosecutor’s office would move forward and spend time and money on a case of this nature.” Good question.
Source: San Diego