Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Olu Stevens decided, on the second day of a drug trial, that he had to replace the jury due to a lack of any black jurors, despite objections from both the prosecution and defense.
“There is not a single African-American on this jury and (the defendant) is an African-American man,” Judge Stevens said, according to a video of the trial. “I cannot in good conscious go forward with this jury.”
“The concern is that the panel is not representative of the community,” said Stevens, who brought in a new group of jurors despite objections from both the defense and prosecutor.
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Dorislee Gilbert asked the Supreme Court to investigate Judge Stevens for fears that other judges “may feel societal, political, and other pressures” to dismiss a jury for lack of minorities if allowed.
The judge “struck the jury based on nothing more than unsupported fear or impression that the jury might not be fair because of its racial makeup,” Gilbert wrote in the case to the state Supreme Court. “There was no consideration of whether the commonwealth or the citizens who had sacrificed of their own lives to make themselves available for jury service had any rights or interests in continuing to trial with the jury as selected.”