Judge Recommends Rep. Tyrone Brooks’s Indictment Should Stand
(APN) ATLANTA — United States Magistrate Judge E. Clayton Scofield III has recommended that the motion by State Rep. Tyrone Brooks (D-Atlanta) to dismiss his indictment, in the case of USA v. Brooks, should be denied, according to documents obtained by Atlanta Progressive News.
Brooks was indicted for the misuse of charitable funds in May 2013; Atlanta Progressive News covered the indictment in detail.
Brooks has responded to Judge Schofield’s report and recommendation; the Government’s response, by way of the U.S. District Attorney’s office, is due June 23, 2013.
Once the District Attorney’s office responds, Chief U.S. District Judge Julie Carnes will likely rule on Brooks’s motion to dismiss his indictment. Should the District Judge concur with the report and recommendation, then Brooks’s case will go to trial.
Last month, Brooks was essentially reelected to his House District 55 seat when he recently was nominated to be the Democratic nominee for the seat. Alvelyn Sanders is currently engaging in an uphill battle, however, to collect enough signatures to appear as an independent on the ballot in the General Election.
Brooks–who is being represented by former Gov. Roy Barnes–filed a preliminary motion to dismiss on May 21, 2013, and was allowed to obtain records related to the grand jury in his case and the court’s grand jury procedures. Brooks filed his perfected motion to dismiss on January 03, 2014.
Generally, Brooks argued that his indictment should be dismissed because there were not enough racial minorities on the grand jury, and that this was part of a systematic discrimination by the District.
Brooks “argues that the grand jury selection process (1) violated the fair-cross-section requirement of the Sixth Amendment; (2) violated his right to equal protection under the Fifth Amendment; (3) violated the fair-cross-section requirement of the Jury Selection and Service Act of 1968 (“JSSA”), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1861-1869; (4) failed to comply with the JSSA’s requirement that the jury-selection process be random and objective; and (5) failed to comply with the JSSA’s requirement that the master jury wheel be refilled every four years,” according to the report.
However, Judge Schofield found that there is no prima facie evidence that there is systematic bias in the Northern District of Georgia’s practices for grand jury selection.
“According to the Amended Plan of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, All Divisions, for the Random Selection of Grand and Petit Jurors (“Amended Plan”), the Clerk is to construct a new master jury wheel every four years, using the names of registered voters selected at random from each of the four divisions in the Northern District,” the report states.
Every four years, a new master jury wheel is built. The wheel contains a proportional number of prospective jurors from each of the four divisions. For example, it contains 41 percent of its prospective jurors from the Atlanta Division.
From the master jury wheel, a qualified jury wheel is developed based on citizens’ responses to questionnaires mailed out by the clerk.
As the list gets depleted, the clerk adds new names to the qualified jury wheel, keeping the makeup of the wheel proportional to the population sizes of each of the four divisions.
From this wheel, 90 prospective grand jury members were selected to hear the Brooks indictment.
Brooks “contends that the jury selection process in the Northern District of Georgia systematically underrepresents qualified jurors from the Atlanta Division, where the majority of African-Americans in the Northern District reside, thereby excluding a disproportionate number of qualified African-Americans from grand juries.”
However, the Judge found that “Defendant’s statistical evidence is insufficient… because he has pointed to only a single instance where the disparity in African-Americans was constitutionally of any significance.”
Federal courts have ruled in the past that the disparity between the proportion of Blacks on the jury, and the proportion of Blacks in the district, must be more than ten percent for there to be a systematic exclusion.
Brooks argues that the absolute disparity in the grand jury in his own case is 10.1 percent.
The court finds that even if it agreed with Brooks’s calculations with regard to his own grand jury, that this does not create evidence of a systematic problem because it is only one case.
“Repeating… [the] calculations for the remaining jury pools summoned from September 2009 to January 2013, the government shows that the representation of African-Americans on these jury pools ranged from 21.882% to 25.4068%. Defendant’s jury pool, the absolute disparity in the representation of African-Americans during this time ranged from 4.1132% to 7.638%,” the report found.