Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Court considers more prosecutor misconduct issues

A San Jose superior court is conducting a hearing today to investigate a former prosecutor's claim that he used peremptory challenges to keep Jews and black women off of capital case juries. The CA S. Ct. ordered the superior court to conduct this fact-finding as part of a defendant's appeal of his death sentence. Fred Freeman was sentenced to death in 1987 for the killing of a bar patron in Berkeley. Freeman's case was prosecuted by John Quatman. Quatman now claims he, and others in the Alameda County D.A.'s office, regularly kept Jews and black women off capital juries. Quatman has already had 2 previous murder convictions overturned because of misconduct. The Alameda County D.A.'s office denies the allegations.

CNN.com has this AP report.

The San Francisco Chronicle has been closely following this case, with articles here, here, here and here.

The fact-finding being conducted by the superior court is similar to that ordered by the CA S. Ct. in the case of In re Sakarias, where the Court last month overturned a death sentence based on prosecutor misconduct. In that case (discussed in posts last month), the Court appointed a referee to determine, among other things, which of a prosecutor's inconsistent statements was more likely true.

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