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In WaPo, Southerland talks criminal background searches of jurors

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Monday, December 9, 2013

District prosecutors ran criminal background checks on several potential jurors in a high-profile gang case, raising serious concerns from a judge who questioned why most people they selected were African American....Vincent M. Southerland, senior counsel with the NAACP’s Legal Defense and Educational Fund, called what prosecutors did in the case “troubling.”

“If you subject one person to this type of treatment, you have to subject everyone to it. It sends a bad message. Even if the prosecutor had no malicious intent, it smells bad, to say the least,” he said. “When people hear about stories like this, it gives chilling effects on people who want to serve on juries and it breeds mistrust with respect to law enforcement and prosecutors.”

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