Saturday, May 31, 2008

Another Delay For the Jena Six - Judge Mauffray Hearing

So whatever happened to the constitutional right to a speedy trial? Charges were first leveled against them more than 17 months ago, and now another month long delay.

Lawyers in Jena 6 case seek judge's ouster

By Howard Witt | Tribune correspondent
8:40 AM CDT, May 31, 2008

OUSTON—Lawyers for the five remaining defendants facing trial in the racially divisive Jena 6 incident in Louisiana presented evidence Friday of what they said was bias on the part of the judge presiding over the cases and sought his removal.

After four hours of testimony, a visiting judge appointed by the Louisiana Supreme Court to hear the recusal motion against LaSalle Parish District Judge J.P. Mauffray asked for more evidence and postponed a ruling until at least July.

Defense attorneys have long asserted that the white-dominated justice system in the small central Louisiana town was biased against their African-American clients: six high school students who were initially charged with attempted murder in the December 2006 beating of a white classmate...

According to some of those present during Friday's hearing, defense attorneys testified that Mauffray had made prejudicial comments to them about their clients on multiple occasions. David Utter, who represents defendant Jesse Ray Beard, said Mauffray had labeled the Jena 6 defendants "a violent bunch" and had asserted that "crime has gone down" in the months after the youths were jailed on the beating charges.

When he was called to the witness stand, those present said, Mauffray appeared to concede that he had made such statements, testifying at various points that "I probably said that" and "I might have said that." But the judge maintained that he had not formed an opinion as to the guilt or innocence of the accused youths.

Mauffray "has proven through his testimony that he does harbor prejudice and prejudgment in these cases," said Derwyn Bunton, an attorney for Theodore Shaw. "We want a fair trial with a fair judge, and the hearing illustrated we cannot have that with Judge Mauffray."

Chicago Tribune article

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