X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
More attorneys have come forward to say that it was an “old and comfortable practice” for Alameda County prosecutors to weed Jews and other groups off death penalty juries in the 1980s, according to court papers filed Friday by a death row inmate’s lawyers. In an interview with a defense lawyer, former Oakland prosecutor Alexander Selvin purportedly said that his colleagues tended not to want black women or Jews on their capital juries. Current DA Tom Orloff and former DA D. Lowell Jensen would never have “tolerated” a formal policy of exclusion, the declaration by defense lawyer Lawrence Gibbs says in summarizing the interview with Selvin. Nevertheless, Selvin, a death penalty prosecutor who now lives in New Mexico, told Gibbs it was common knowledge in the capital unit that this practice was routinely followed. Fred Freeman’s lawyers want the California Supreme Court to overturn their client’s 1987 death penalty conviction because, they say, the prosecutor conspired with the judge to keep Jews off the jury. Their case is built around prosecutor John “Jack” Quatman’s claim that he followed Judge Stanley Golde’s voir dire advice to steer clear of Jews. Quatman claimed that it was standard practice among prosecutors to exclude Jews and black women from juries. In July, the California Supreme Court issued an order to show cause, asking the attorney general to explain why Freeman’s sentence shouldn’t be overturned. In August, prosecutors fired back and asked for an evidentiary hearing. It was “simply inconceivable” that Golde, who was Jewish and died in 1998, would say such a thing, declared Jensen, now a federal judge. John Meehan, another former DA who was Quatman’s boss at the time, added that it was “dishonest” for Quatman to say that there was office policy about keeping certain groups off juries. Last week, Freeman’s attorneys — led by Michael Laurence and Gary Sowards of the state’s Habeas Corpus Resource Center — attempted to strengthen their case with voir dire records and two declarations: one from a lawyer who interviewed Selvin, and another from a former defense lawyer who tried cases in Alameda County during the 1980s. “Prosecutors’ routine challenging of African-American, Jewish and classes of other jurors was commonly discussed among attorneys and was evident to any minimally observant lawyer,” Lawrence Boxer — an ex-public defender attorney and now a civil litigator and adjunct professor at Hastings College of Law — said in a declaration. “It was described as tactical information provided to newer deputies, there being no need to have such explicit discussions with experienced deputies for whom it was an old and comfortable practice,” Boxer said. Freeman’s lawyers also reviewed jury selection records for five capital cases that were tried around the time of the Freeman case. All prospective jurors who identified themselves as Jewish or had Jewish-sounding surnames were removed by prosecutors’ peremptory challenges, the inmate’s lawyers say. They also critiqued Jensen and Meehan’s statements. Jensen’s praise of Golde’s character doesn’t disprove Quatman’s declaration and flies in the face of appellate court opinions that rapped Golde for playing fast and loose with court rules, they wrote. Meehan has no experience handling capital cases and would be unaware if the death penalty unit had been using religion to screen jurors, they added. Quatman “was persuaded to engage in such misconduct as a result of the office culture prevailing among, and the standard practice followed by, members of the capital case unit � and by the admonishments and advice of the trial judge, all of whom shared knowledge that such conduct was improper.” Now the state Supreme Court must decide whether to hold a hearing to air evidence on the case. The case has roiled the Alameda County legal community. Many idolized Golde and his son is a veteran Alameda County prosecutor. The case has also pitted the credibility of the deceased judge against that of the prosecutor who, like Golde, has critics. Quatman was accused of misconduct during a murder case and also of inflating his role in Polly Klaas’ murder case when he ran for a Contra Costa judicial post in 1996. The case is Freeman on Habeas Corpus, S122590.

This content has been archived. It is available exclusively through our partner LexisNexis®.

To view this content, please continue to Lexis Advance®.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber? Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® is now the exclusive third party online distributor of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® customers will be able to access and use ALM's content by subscribing to the LexisNexis® services via Lexis Advance®. This includes content from the National Law Journal®, The American Lawyer®, Law Technology News®, The New York Law Journal® and Corporate Counsel®, as well as ALM's other newspapers, directories, legal treatises, published and unpublished court opinions, and other sources of legal information.

ALM's content plays a significant role in your work and research, and now through this alliance LexisNexis® will bring you access to an even more comprehensive collection of legal content.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]

 
 

ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.