Tuesday, November 30, 2021

PA prosecutor asks SCOTUS to review Bill Cosby decision

Prosecutors in Montgomery County, Pa., have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review a ruling by the state’s top court earlier this year that vacated the sexual assault conviction of Bill Cosby, who was one of the country’s most beloved celebrities before he was recast as a merciless predator and sexual deviant in the first celebrity trial of the #MeToo era, reported the Washington Post.

Cosby, 84, was found guilty of sexual assault in 2018. He spent nearly three years behind bars before his sentence was reversed in June by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which ruled that Cosby had believed he was operating under an immunity agreement offered by a prosecutor when the entertainer provided testimony that was damaging to himself.

Prosecutors have denied the existence of such a deal, and Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele said in a Monday statement that the U.S. Supreme Court “can right what we believe is a grievous wrong.”

Cosby has always maintained his innocence. On Monday, his spokesman Andrew Wyatt lashed out at Steele, whom he accused of having a troubling “fixation” on Cosby.

“In short, the Montgomery County D.A. asks the United States Supreme Court to throw the Constitution out the window, as it did, to satisfy the [#MeToo] mob,” Wyatt said in a statement. “This is a pathetic last-ditch effort that will not prevail.”

Though the case was widely followed in the media, it appears unlikely that the Supreme Court will review it. The panel receives between 7,000 and 8,000 petitions each term and grants oral arguments to around 80.

“[Cosby’s case] is such a one-off situation that the U.S. Supreme Court might look at it and say, ‘It’s not worth our time because this will never happen again,’” Jules Epstein, a law professor at Temple University, told The Washington Post at the time of Cosby’s release.

From the onset of Cosby’s criminal trial, prosecutors and defense lawyers clashed over their differing interpretations of a 2005 news release issued by then-district attorney Bruce Castor, who had declined to pursue a criminal case against Cosby, citing “insufficient, credible and admissible evidence.”

The release did not mention an immunity deal, but Cosby’s attorneys said it buttressed an oral non-prosecution agreement.

Bill Cosby’s accusers now number 60. Here’s who they are.

Cosby and Andrea Constand, an employee at Cosby’s alma mater Temple University who accused him of drugging and molesting her, later settled a civil lawsuit. The criminal case, which Castor had declined to prosecute, was reopened in 2015 after a judge unsealed parts of Cosby’s deposition during the civil suit. That decision came shortly after a dozen women came forward with allegations that Cosby had drugged and sexually assaulted them.

A particularly damaging deposition from the 2005 civil suit revealed that Cosby had acknowledged intending to use quaaludes, a sedative, on young women with whom he wanted to have sex. He did not admit to criminal wrongdoing during the deposition.

By the time he was convicted in 2018, at least 60 women had accused Cosby of sexually assaulting or harassing them. The allegations spanned some 40 years, during which Cosby’s career took off and transformed him into a household name.

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Monday, November 29, 2021

'Relying on a criminal trial to do democracy’s job is a fool’s errand'

Joseph Margulies a professor at Cornell University writing at Politico:

For millions of people watching these trials [Rittenhouse and the killing of Ahmaud Arbery], far more is at stake than whether four men murdered three others. They’re covered and watched so obsessively because we see them as referenda about hot button issues that elude resolution elsewhere.

Some on the political right look at the Rittenhouse acquittal as proof that the protests for racial justice two summers past were lawless mobs — and that armed resistance to protest is not only defensible, it is virtuous. Some on the political left look on the Arbery prosecution as a dagger to the heart of the implicit (and often explicit) association between Blackness and crime. If the defendants are convicted, they’ll read the result as proof that the citizen’s arrest the men claim to have been making is just a modern form of slave patrol.

As a law professor and criminal defense lawyer who has spent a long career puzzling over the recurring collision between justice and law, I understand the desire to imbue high profile trials — especially criminal trials like Rittenhouse and Arbery, or Derek Chauvin’s trial for killing George Floyd earlier this year, or the Trayvon Martin trial — with broader and conclusive social meaning.

These courtroom battles, with their drama and finality, offer more than the prospect of justice in an individual case. For some, they promise a resolution to our most intractable problems — problems that otherwise prove unsolvable.

There’s a reason we look to courts for these solutions. Because we are so bitterly divided, the mechanisms and institutions by which we might otherwise achieve social consensus have broken down. Elections don’t end our arguments, as Jan. 6 made plain. In a post-truth age, neither does recourse to shared facts or widely trusted voices. In short, we lean on criminal trials because everything else has collapsed.

But like any quick fix, relying on a criminal trial to do democracy’s job is a fool’s errand.

To begin with, those who seek bigger answers from a criminal trial seem not to understand what takes place inside one. Criminal trials ask one question, and one question only: Has the prosecution sustained its burden? Has the state proven that this person, in this moment, committed a crime? A sensible judge will keep the jury laser-focused on that issue, and for good reason. Anything else raises the prospect that an accused will be convicted for ills not of his making, and beyond his power to control.

The trial in Kenosha was not an occasion to ask whether gun control is a good idea, whether right-wing media has too much power or whether Antifa is a menace. The jurors did not proclaim Rittenhouse a hero. They did not nominate him for public office. They didn’t even say he did the right thing when he shot and killed two people. They said the state failed to sustain its burden of proof. That’s it.

Because the focus of a trial is so purposely narrowed, it excludes nearly all the things society ought to care about going forward. The trial of Derek Chauvin did not examine the culture of the Minneapolis Police Department. It did not — and could not — explain how someone like Chauvin rose through the ranks to a position of authority. It did not try to understand the long history of animosity between the police and Minneapolis communities of color. It did not take up the pressures placed on the police by politicians, prosecutors and the public to “get tough on crime,” or ask how those pressures distorted police practice.

All the questions we might ask if we want to create systemic change are deliberately excluded from the jury’s consideration. Chauvin’s trial asked whether he murdered George Floyd — a backward-looking question of surpassing importance — but that’s all. Because a criminal trial affixes blame for what happened yesterday, it cannot decide what it takes to make society better tomorrow.

Not only can’t criminal trials make these decisions; they shouldn’t. There is only one way to decide what is best for the country. It is the hard, messy, unsatisfying, flawed work of democracy. The capacity for self-governance, for deliberation and compromise with an eye toward consensus, free of vitriol and without violence, must be constantly renewed. It does not come easily. It may not even come naturally. But democracy is a muscle that atrophies with disuse. Every time we imagine a criminal trial as the path to national change, we enfeeble the one power that can lead us from darkness.

That is why a verdict in Brunswick, no matter what it is, cannot solve our problems. It cannot answer the racially charged questions of belonging and entitlement at the core of the case. It cannot tell us whether white men secure in their white suburb should be empowered to decide whether a blameless Black man “belongs” in their space. Or whether they ought to have the authority to act on that judgment by arming themselves and giving chase. Or whether they should be free to kill the Black man who resists. It will no more answer these questions than did the trial of George Zimmerman for the killing of Trayvon Martin. And most of all, it cannot shed light on the history that would lead these white men to think their behavior was just, or describe the future that makes this horror impossible.

The verdict in Brunswick may achieve justice for Ahmaud Arbery, but it will not solve our ills. That’s our job.

To read more CLICK HERE

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Vigilantism in the era of gun proliferation

 Kathleen Parker writing in the Washington Post:

Two recent vigilante killing trials, one in Georgia, the other in Wisconsin, have exposed a terrifying trend of armed citizens who, in the name of justice, only make America less safe and portend a future of fear, intimidation and increasing violence.

They also raise a question that haunts me: How the hell did we get here? When did we start permitting Americans to take the law into their own hands?

In the first trial, teen shooter Kyle Rittenhouse was found not guilty of murdering two men he shot to death during a racial-justice protest in Kenosha, Wis. in August 2020. Rittenhouse shot a third man as well, but he survived. Now 18, Rittenhouse had left his home in Illinois and gone to the protest with an AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle and a medical kit — allegedly to help keep the peace.

Defense lawyers made a convincing-enough case that jurors found that Rittenhouse met the legal definition of self-defense. Though reactions to the verdict have varied, almost everyone would agree that Rittenhouse had no business wielding a weapon of such deadly force. Who would think to do such a thing?

Oh, lots of people, especially the Young Guns in our country who’ve marinated in tough talk and rough politics for most of their lives.

In Georgia, jury deliberations began Tuesday in the trial of three men accused of murdering 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery, for basically Jogging While Black. Somewhat like Rittenhouse, the three men were armed, they said, because of recent burglaries in their community and they thought Arbery looked like he could be the culprit. In a word, they hunted Arbery — and they killed him.

It seems unlikely that any jury would let the three defendants off given the evidence and a superbly -delivered prosecution by attorney Linda Dunikoski. But even setting aside the presumed verdict, we’re again faced with armed goons who killed an innocent man for no reason or cause. Even the shooter, Travis McMichael, admitted during his testimony that Arbery posed no threat.

More trials for similar behavior are, unfortunately, inevitable in our hyped-up, trigger-happy, madder-than-hell country. It’s getting harder to pinpoint what everyone is so angry about — an extended pandemic, inflation, supply-chain problems, our politics — but a certain percentage of disgruntled people seem ready to go to war.

This is not normal — or, for a people, sustainable. If once we fought a Civil War to end slavery, today we’ll fight over just about any little provocation. Cut off in traffic? Shoot the bastard. I am not joking: Between June 2020 and May 2021, an average of 42 people per month were killed or wounded in road-rage shootings, according to Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun violence prevention organization. Other local officials report that disagreements that were once routinely settled with words or at worst police intervention, now often end in violence.

How did we come unglued?

The commonplace nature of firearms is a factor. Whereas it was once rare to see people walking around with a gun, except in hunting or rural settings, the United States now boasts 44 states that allow people to openly carry a weapon in public, though states vary on restrictions. Thus, last year during the Portland, Ore. riots, we saw would-be combatants stalking around with their long guns. In Brunswick, Ga., during the trial of Travis McMichael, his father, Gregory, and neighbor William Bryan, the new Black Panthers walked along downtown sidewalks carrying rifles. I don’t necessarily worry such displays of firepower mean someone is going to start shooting, but what else are we to infer?

In common law, going back centuries, there has been a long tradition against carrying weapons in a manner that bred fears among the public. What has happened to that way of thinking?

Something. What we see today has been a long time coming, perhaps beneath our notice. I compare the phenomenon to being so mesmerized by the sight of a far-off tidal wave that it paralyzes nearly until the wall of water is upon us.

People who were once political rivals now talk about each other as if they are enemies. We see ever-growing numbers of extremists on the right, where white supremacists have been validated by a former president of the United States. They also feel vindicated by Rittenhouse’s verdict and see him as a hero, just as those men down in Georgia likely see themselves.

With each stance of an armed vigilante, with each bullet he loads and locks into some gun’s chamber, we lose a bit more of our security and, therefore, our freedom. The truth is, a vigilante who attempts to take justice into his own hands is usually a coward with an inflated ego used as a beard to conceal his deficiencies.

The challenge for the rest of us is to resist these posers and demand real justice lest we become victims of our own inertia.

To read more CLICK HERE

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Friday, November 26, 2021

The prosecutor who convicted Ahmaud Arbery's killers

 The lawyer was from out of town, a prosecutor who had spent the bulk of her career in a large, liberal city, and she had been brought in to try the biggest case of her career: the murder of a Black man on a sunny afternoon by three white men just outside a small city pinned to the South Georgia coastline.

Despite the evidence of racism she had at her disposal, Linda Dunikoski, the prosecutor, stunned some legal observers by largely avoiding race during the trial, choosing instead to hew closely to the details of how the three men had chased the Black man, Ahmaud Arbery, through their neighborhood, reported The New York Times.

The risks went beyond her career and a single trial. Failure to convict in a case that many saw as an obvious act of racial violence would reverberate well outside Glynn County, Ga. For some, it would be a referendum on a country that appeared to have made tentative steps last summer toward confronting racism, only to devolve into deeper divisions.

On Wednesday, Ms. Dunikoski’s strategy was vindicated when the jury found the three men guilty of murder and other charges after deliberating for roughly a day. The convicted men — Gregory McMichael, 65; his son Travis McMichael, 35; and their neighbor William Bryan, 52 — are now facing life sentences in prison. They are also facing trial in February on separate federal hate-crime charges.

Kevin Gough, the lawyer who represented Mr. Bryan, credited Ms. Dunikoski with threading the most difficult of needles. She mentioned a racial motive just once during the three-week trial, in her closing argument: The men, she said, had attacked Mr. Arbery “because he was a Black man running down the street.”

“She found a clever way of bringing the issue up that wouldn’t be offensive to the right-leaning members of the jury,” he said. “I think you can see from the verdict that Dunikoski made the right call.”

A number of legal experts, in the moment, thought Ms. Dunikoski’s strategy to be a risky one. But many in Brunswick thought that she had proved savvy about what tone to strike in a Deep South community where, they said, race doesn’t have to be referenced explicitly for everyone to understand the implications.

Cedric King, a Black local businessman, said that the evidence against the defendants, particularly the video of Mr. Arbery’s murder, had been strong enough to stand on its own.

“Anybody with warm blood running through their veins that witnessed the video and knew the context around what transpired knew that it was wrong,” Mr. King said.

The case, from the beginning, echoed painful themes in the Deep South. The murder of a Black man by white men carrying guns, presented to a jury that included just one Black person. The rest were white. The jury had been put in place over the protests of Ms. Dunikoski, who had tried unsuccessfully to prevent potential Black jurors from being removed during the selection process by the defense lawyers. It was also a painful moment for Glynn County, a majority-white county that remains marked by the legacy of segregation.

Its county seat, Brunswick, had earned accolades, decades ago, for the way its Black and white leaders worked together to integrate schools and public facilities. But the selection of such a racially lopsided jury had sparked anger and mistrust in a county where more than one in four residents is Black. Neighboring Brunswick are four barrier islands known as the Golden Isles, a popular tourism destination that is also home to some of the wealthiest people in the country.

Before the trial Ms. Dunikoski, who is 54 and declined to be interviewed, had spent her career largely in the Atlanta metropolitan area, establishing a reputation as a tough-minded prosecutor going after murderers, gang members and sex offenders. By the end of the trial, she had won the trust of the Arbery family so deeply that they came to call her Auntie Linda.

The case took a tortuous route before landing in Ms. Dunikowski’s lap. Two local district attorney’s offices handled the case to begin with, but both eventually removed themselves from it, citing conflicts of interest; one of the former prosecutors, Jackie Johnson, has been criminally indicted over her handling of the case. It was in the hands of a third D.A.’s office before being passed to the more resource-rich Cobb County, where Ms. Dunikoski has worked since 2019. 

Before joining the Cobb County office, Ms. Dunikoski had spent more than 17 years as a prosecutor in Fulton County, where one of her highest-profile cases was the trial of a group of Atlanta Public Schools teachers who were found guilty in 2015 of racketeering and other charges for altering students’ standardized test scores. Critics said the prosecutors had offered up a group of mostly Black educators as scapegoats for a school district that had much deeper systemic problems.

In 2009, according to The Associated Press, Ms. Dunikoski was jailed by a judge for failing to pay a $100 fine after the judge had cited her for contempt. The chief county prosecutor at the time reportedly engaged in a shouting match with the judge, arguing that he had unjustly harmed the reputation of an honest lawyer.

To read more CLICK HERE

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Pharmacies take a hit with Ohio opioid verdict

CVS, Walgreens and Walmart pharmacies recklessly distributed massive amounts of pain pills in two Ohio counties, a federal jury said in a verdict that could set the tone for U.S. city and county governments that want to hold pharmacies accountable for their roles in the opioid crisis, reported The Associated Press.

Lake and Trumbull counties blamed the three chain pharmacies for not stopping the flood of pills that caused hundreds of overdose deaths and cost each of the two counties about $1 billion, said their attorney, who in court compared the pharmacies’ dispensing to a gumball machine.

How much the pharmacies must pay in damages will be decided in the spring by a federal judge.

It’s the first time pharmacy companies completed a trial to defend themselves in a drug crisis that killed a half-million Americans over the past two decades.

The counties convinced the jury that the pharmacies played an outsized role in creating a public nuisance in the way they dispensed pain medication into their communities.

“The law requires pharmacies to be diligent in dealing drugs. This case should be a wake-up call that failure will not be accepted,” said Mark Lanier, an attorney for the counties.

“The jury sounded a bell that should be heard through all pharmacies in America,” Lanier said.

Attorneys for the pharmacy chains maintained they had policies to stem the flow of pills when their pharmacists had concerns and would notify authorities about suspicious orders from doctors. They also said it was doctors who controlled how many pills were prescribed for legitimate medical needs.

CVSHealth, Walgreen Co. and Walmart Inc. said they will appeal.

Walmart said in a statement that the counties’ attorneys sued “in search of deep pockets while ignoring the real causes of the opioid crisis — such as pill mill doctors, illegal drugs, and regulators asleep at the switch — and they wrongly claimed pharmacists must second-guess doctors in a way the law never intended and many federal and state health regulators say interferes with the doctor-patient relationship.”

Walgreen spokesperson Fraser Engerman characterized the case as an unsustainable effort “to resolve the opioid crisis with an unprecedented expansion of public nuisance law.”

The company “never manufactured or marketed opioids nor did we distribute them to the ‘pill mills’ and internet pharmacies that fueled this crisis,” Engerman said in a statement.

A statement from CVS spokesperson Mike DeAngelis noted: “As plaintiffs’ own experts testified, many factors have contributed to the opioid abuse issue, and solving this problem will require involvement from all stakeholders in our health care system and all members of our community.”

Two chains — Rite Aid and Giant Eagle — already had settled lawsuits with the two Ohio counties.

Lanier said during trial that the pharmacies were attempting to blame everyone but themselves.

The opioid crisis has overwhelmed courts, social services agencies and law enforcement in Ohio’s blue-collar corner east of Cleveland, leaving behind heartbroken families and babies born to addicted mothers, Lanier told jurors.

Roughly 80 million prescription painkillers were dispensed in Trumbull County alone between 2012 and 2016 — equivalent to 400 for every resident. In Lake County, some 61 million pills were distributed during that period.

The rise in physicians prescribing pain medications such as oxycodone and hydrocodone came as medical groups began recognizing that patients have the right to be treated for pain, Kaspar Stoffelmayr, an attorney for Walgreens, said at the opening of the trial.

The problem, he said, was “pharmaceutical manufacturers tricked doctors into writing way too many pills.”

The counties said pharmacies should be the last line of defense to prevent the pills from getting into the wrong hands.

They didn’t hire enough pharmacists and technicians or train them to stop that from happening and failed to implement systems that could flag suspicious orders, Lanier said.

The committee of lawyers for the local governments suing the drug industry in federal courts called Tuesday’s verdict “a milestone victory” and “overdue reckoning.”

“For decades, pharmacy chains have watched as the pills flowing out of their doors cause harm and failed to take action as required by law,” the committee said in a statement. “Instead, these companies responded by opening up more locations, flooding communities with pills, and facilitating the flow of opioids into an illegal, secondary market.”

The trial before U.S. District Judge Dan Polster in Cleveland was part of a broader constellation of about 3,000 federal opioid lawsuits consolidated under the judge’s supervision. Other cases are moving ahead in state courts.

Kevin Roy, chief public policy officer at Shatterproof, an organization that advocates for solutions to addiction, said the verdict could lead pharmacies to follow the path of major distribution companies and some drugmakers that have reached nationwide settlements of opioid cases worth billions. So far, no pharmacy has reached a nationwide settlement.

“It’s a signal that the public, at least in select places, feels that there’s been exposure and needs to be remedied,” Roy said.

The government claims against drugmakers, distributors and pharmacies hinge on state and local public nuisance laws.

Roy noted that courts haven’t been consistent on whether those laws apply to such cases. “There’s been a variety of different decisions lately that should give us reason to be cautious about what this really means in the grand scheme,” he said.

Two recent rulings went against the theory. More cases are heading toward rulings.

Trials against drugmakers in New York and distribution companies in Washington state are underway. A trial of claims against distribution companies in West Virginia wrapped up, but the judge hasn’t given a verdict.

Earlier in November, a California judge ruled in favor of top drug manufacturers in a lawsuit with three counties and the city of Oakland. The judge said the governments hadn’t proven that the pharmaceutical companies used deceptive marketing to increase unnecessary opioid prescriptions and create a public nuisance.

Also this month, Oklahoma’s supreme court overturned a 2019 judgment for $465 million in a suit brought by the state against drugmaker Johnson & Johnson.

Other lawsuits have resulted in big settlements or proposed settlements before trials were completed.

The jury’s decision in Cleveland had little effect on the stock of CVS, Walgreens and Walmart, which all closed higher Tuesday on Wall Street.

To read more CLICK HERE


Mangino on Law and Crime Network

Watch my trial analysis on Law and Crime Network.

To watch interview CLICK HERE

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Jury gets case in Ahmaud Arbery murder trial

Jurors have begun deliberations  in the murder trial of the three men accused of killing 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery last year, reported the Washington Post.

Judge Timothy Walmsley read jurors their instructions after prosecutors made their final rebuttal to the defense’s closing argument.

Cobb County senior district attorney Linda Dunikoski told jurors that the three White men — Greg McMichael, his son Travis McMichael and their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan — jumped to conclusions about a “Black man running down the street” before pursuing Arbery in pickup trucks and confronting him in their suburban Georgia neighborhood. Rebutting the defense’s closing arguments Tuesday morning, she called part of their strategy “offensive” and clashed with them over the meaning of a law central to the case — Georgia’s since-overhauled statute allowing citizen’s arrests.

“This isn’t the Wild West,” Dunikoski said as she argued the defendants were the aggressors in the case that sparked national outrage after a video of the confrontation went viral and pushed authorities to make arrests more than two months after the killing.

Defense attorneys pushed back Monday on both the prosecution’s and the public’s condemnations of their clients, calling them concerned citizens who believed Arbery was a burglar and never set out to hurt him. Travis McMichael shot Arbery in self-defense during a struggle, they said. Laura Hogue, a lawyer for Greg McMichael, criticized Arbery for his actions in February 2020, saying he caused his own death because he ran away “instead of facing the consequences” and because he “chose to fight.”

Dunikoski said Tuesday that Hogue’s argument was “standard, standard stuff” faulting the victim.

“I know you’re not going buy into that,” she told jurors. “It’s offensive.”

Jurors have heard over 10 days of witness testimony from a parade of police officers, neighbors and experts with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Last week, Travis McMichael himself took the stand, choking up at times as he said Arbery struck him and grabbed his shotgun in the final seconds of the viral cellphone video — taken by Bryan — that triggered public outrage.

To read more CLICK HERE


Monday, November 22, 2021

Uncomfortable questions about the scope of self-defense

For many Americans, the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse on all charges was a vindication of an innocent, if not heroic, teenager with good intentions. For others, it was a brutal disappointment, further evidence that the courts give white men a pass for their actions, reported The New York Times.

But for legal scholars, it was not a surprise. Once Mr. Rittenhouse claimed that he had acted in self-defense when he shot three men, killing two, during unrest following the police shooting of a Black man in Kenosha, Wis., the onus was on the prosecution to prove otherwise.

“When people look at this, and they’re feeling frustrated, they’re not recognizing just how high the prosecutors’ burden is here,” said Cecelia Klingele, a University of Wisconsin law professor. “It was a real uphill battle to get out from under self-defense.”

The acquittal points to the wide berth the legal system gives to defendants who say they acted out of fear, even if others around them were also afraid.

Wisconsin’s rules for self-defense are well within the national mainstream. If people reasonably believe they are at risk of death or great bodily harm, they can use deadly force. Most states say that someone who provokes violence or is acting illegally waives the right to self-defense, but Wisconsin allows it if the person has “exhausted every other reasonable means to escape from or otherwise avoid death or great bodily harm.”

The state does not have a full-fledged “stand your ground” statute that exists in at least 30 states, but people who believe they are threatened do not have a duty to retreat if they can.

Such rules can be combustible when juxtaposed against the state’s open carry law, which allows for situations like the one at issue in the trial, where numerous strangers were armed and had taken it upon themselves to maintain order.

Self-defense laws typically do not require someone to have good judgment and tend to consider only the moments leading up to the violence, not whether the person willingly entered a turbulent situation or contributed to the chaos.

“Do you look at the choice to go to a heated, confrontational area with a weapon that would be scary to a lot of people?” said Samuel Buell, a former federal prosecutor who teaches at Duke University School of Law, speaking of Mr. Rittenhouse. “You can’t really say that he doesn’t have a right to do that because of the status of gun laws.”

Similarly, even though the three men on trial for the killing of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia chased him through a suburban neighborhood, they are claiming self-defense because, they say, Mr. Arbery tried to get control of a shotgun one was carrying.

Gun laws have generally become more permissive — open carry is now legal, to one degree or another, in almost every state. Gun purchases have soared and the Supreme Court appears poised to gut New York State’s handgun permit requirement in a Second Amendment case.

“If we’re going to have a country in which guns are pervasive and the law has little or nothing to say about where and when one may carry a gun and display a gun,” Mr. Buell said, “then we are going to have a situation where self-defense law can’t really handle it.”

The reasonable fear standard for self-defense has given rise to concerns that it is affected by the same racial bias that permeates the justice system. A mountain of social science research shows that Black people, men in particular, are more likely to be seen as threatening.

“The message that this case sends is to shoot first, ask questions later,” said Kami Chavis, director of the criminal justice program at Wake Forest Law. She added, “If we change the race, the age, the victims, if we change some of these dynamics we very well could have had a different result.”

During the unrest he was pursued by a man, Joseph Rosenbaum, who Mr. Rittenhouse said he feared would wrest control of his gun. Mr. Rittenhouse shot and killed him. That, according to evidence presented at the trial, caused members of the crowd to perceive Mr. Rittenhouse as a dangerous aggressor.

One man, Anthony Huber, used a skateboard as a weapon against him. Mr. Rittenhouse shot and killed him before facing off with a third man, Gaige Grosskreutz, who had pulled out a handgun. Mr. Rittenhouse wounded him in the arm.

Even assuming that everyone involved had the best of intentions, it would be difficult to tell aggressors from defenders. A police officer testified that so many armed people were roving the area that when Mr. Rittenhouse approached with his hands up, he made no connection to the shootings that had occurred.

The jury was not asked to consider whether Mr. Rittenhouse was in error for bringing a gun to a volatile situation. The only gun charge against Mr. Rittenhouse — possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18 — was dismissed at the 11th hour. The judge agreed with a defense argument that the law made an exception for long guns, a common provision that allows teenagers to hunt. The law was written at a time when military-style assault rifles were not widely available.

Since the Parkland, Fla., school shooting in 2018, in which the gunman was 19, Florida, California and Vermont have raised the age to purchase a long gun to 21, and Washington State did the same for semiautomatic rifles.

Gallup poll last year showed that support for gun regulation, which surged after the Parkland shooting, has ebbed during the coronavirus pandemic and a spike in violent crime. Still, a healthy majority of Americans support stricter gun laws.

“What happened in Kenosha isn’t some fluke,” said Nick Suplina, senior vice president for Law & Policy at Everytown for Gun Safety. “It’s the logical consequence of state and federal laws being written by the N.R.A. and going unopposed for decades.”

For many who followed the case, especially on the political left, the verdict raised uncomfortable questions about the scope of self-defense laws. Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway of Madison, Wis., called the verdict “deeply disturbing” and expressed concern about the message it sent.

“Unfortunately, this will perpetuate distrust in the justice system and further normalize gun violence,” Ms. Rhodes-Conway said in a statement. “Allowing vigilantism to masquerade as self-defense is a terrible precedent.”

Janine Geske, a former Wisconsin Supreme Court justice who now teaches at Marquette University Law School, said the trial was an instance in which many people’s opinions about what was morally acceptable clashed with the jury’s interpretation of what the law allowed.

“I, too, share that view that had he not brought that gun into Kenosha that day, and just come with his medic bag, we probably would not have had any deaths,” Ms. Geske said.

Ms. Geske said she believed that the jurors could have defensibly reached a guilty verdict. They could have, for example, decided that Mr. Rittenhouse’s fear of death or great bodily harm was not reasonable in the situation.

“It’s hard, because most of the victims at some point were approaching Rittenhouse,” Ms. Geske said. “All those factors made it hard for the jury to be satisfied that it wasn’t a reasonable belief.”

To read more CLICK HERE

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Mangino on WFMJ-TV21 Weekend Today

Watch my interview on WFMJ-TV21 Weekend Today about school mask mandates and the Ohio opioid lawsuit.

To watch the interview CLICK HERE

Racism and the defense in the Ahmaud Arbery trial

 Rachel K. Paulose a former U.S. attorney for Minnesota and a professor at the University of St. Thomas School of Law, wrote in the USA Today.

While the alleged killers of Ahmaud Arbery force their case to trial, one of their attorneys is propagating in the courtroom the systemic injustice that led to Arbery’s murder.

Kevin Gough represents William Bryan, one of three men who chased down and killed the unarmed Arbery as he jogged through the residential neighborhood of Brunswick, Georgia. Bryan filmed the fatal attack on Arbery.

Arbery’s death spurred protests, cast the spotlight once again on the daily lethal threats faced by people of color and inspired legal change when the governor of Georgia introduced a bill to reform Georgia’s citizen arrest law under which Arbery’s alleged killers claimed they were acting. 

Gough's actions have had the effect of a campaign of intimidation against African Americans throughout the trial. He helped cause the removal of all but one Black potential juror even though Brunswick is majority Black, causing the trial judge to comment that “there appears to be intentional discrimination." Gough complained there are not enough white “Bubbas or Joe Six Packs" on the jury. He has attempted to control the Arbery family’s actions by restricting their unsupervised access to the media, suggesting the family should be issued a  "rebuke" for speaking publicly and claiming national civil rights leaders supporting the family could be subject to “sanction.”

He moved to bar Black pastors from the courtroom, claiming they intend to intimidate the jury, although he cites not a single example of any minister causing any disruption during the trial. Gough asserted in court, “We don’t want any more Black pastors coming in here.” He compared Black ministers to men in “white masks."

Later, instead of taking responsibility for his incendiary words, he sought to cast blame on his many critics, stating that he apologized to those who were “inadvertently offended.”  

His motion Monday to record citizens appearing in the court gallery who are simply supporting the victim’s family doubles down on his previous alarming courtroom statements, which a co-defendant’s lawyer described as “asinine" and the judge called “reprehensible."  

There are at least three manifest problems with the defense lawyer’s public statements. First, by constitutional design, every trial court is the people’s court. No member of the public may be excluded from watching our government in action.

By contrast, attorneys did not object to the live global media coverage of the trial, which has the greatest potential to impact a jury susceptible to intimidation, as the defense attorney suggested. Nor did anyone object to white pastors appearing in the courtroom.

For centuries, in contradiction of the soaring words of the Declaration of Independence, Southern localities barred African-Americans from participating in public life as voters, jurors and elected officials. A lawyer’s attempts to terminate trial observance by “high-profile members of the African-American community," whom he could not even correctly identify, suggests an intent to perpetuate the ugly stereotype that every Black person, whether an unarmed jogger or a man of the cloth, is a threat to civil order.

Reckless words remind people of color that they are daily unwelcome in public life.

Second, Black pastors have long served as the conscience of the community. In his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” Martin Luther King Jr. responded to the very same criticism of an attempt to influence local action by invoking the prophet’s call: “I am in Birmingham because injustice is here...Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” 

Throughout the history of the South, white supremacists targeted the Black church by bombing children in Sunday school, shooting people en masse in church and burning down churches. 

Yet the Black church has remained the backbone of the African American community, offering strength and support when the government, law enforcement and the local citizenry failed. To attack Black ministers is to attack a cornerstone of life in America.

Third, a lawyer’s continual refusal to abide by standards of good faith, fairness towards opponents and respect for the public, demeans the entire profession. For anyone to victimize again a grieving victim’s family, just as the victim was hunted, assaulted andkilled by Confederate flag-bearing suspects, is aggression beyond reckoning. 

Such behavior may be in violation of professional ethics, the duty of an attorney as an officer of the court and the rules of the state bar through which he or she is licensed. Justice for all is a core value of the profession. Any lawyer who disregards fundamental values should be sanctioned – and such discipline should be a warning to every lawyer in America that zealous advocacy is not a license for unbridled racial harassment.

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Friday, November 19, 2021

Remembering Lincoln on the anniversary of the Gettysburg Address

One-hundred and fifty-eight years ago today, November 19, 1863, Abraham Lincoln gave a brief address at the Soldiers’ National Cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to honor the 50,000 soldiers who died at the battle fought there a few months earlier. In what may be the greatest understatement in the history of speech making Lincoln wrote, "The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here . . ."  In just 271 words, Lincoln delivered one of the most memorable speeches in U.S. history.

In the address, the President referenced the signing of the U.S. Constitution and its promise of liberty and equality for all men. He honored and remembered the many soldiers who sacrificed their lives during the war, and challenged his audience to not let those soldiers die in vain and that “government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

The Gettysburg Address:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

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Thursday, November 18, 2021

Mississippi carries out first execution in nine years

The 10th Execution of 2021

David Neal Cox, 50, the first person executed in Mississippi in nine years, was executed on November 17, 2021. He was what is referred to as a volunteer, he abandoned all appeals and filed court papers calling himself “worthy of death” before the state Supreme Court set his execution date. He appeared calm as he received a lethal injection. A coroner pronounced him dead at 6:12 p.m. CST at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman, reported The Associated Press.

Cox pleaded guilty in 2012 to capital murder for the May 2010 shooting death of his estranged wife, Kim Kirk Cox. He also pleaded guilty to multiple other charges, including sexual assault. A jury handed down the death sentence.

Cox wore a red prison jumpsuit and was covered by a white sheet during the execution. Wide leather straps held him down on a gurney.

“I want my children to know that I love them very much and that I was a good man at one time,” Cox said just before the injection started. “Don't ever read anything but the King James Bible."

Cox thanked the state corrections commissioner, Burl Cain, for "being very kind to me. And that's all I got to say.”

Cox appeared to take several deep breaths after the lethal chemicals started flowing through a clear plastic tube into his body, and his mouth moved some. He was pronounced dead within a few minutes.

Among those who witnessed the execution was Cox’s now 23-year-old stepdaughter. She was 12 when he sexually assaulted her three times in front of her wounded mother as he held them and one of her younger brothers hostage on the night of May 14 and May 15, 2010, in the small town of Sherman. 

Lindsey Kirk looks at childhood photographs of herself and her late mother Kim Kirk Cox, Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021, in New Albany, Miss. She was 12 years old when her stepfather, David Neal Cox, terrorized her family, sexually assaulted her, and killed her mother, Kim Kirk Cox, in May 2010 at a home in Sherman, Miss. The Mississippi Supreme Court set an execution date of Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021, for Cox after he said he wanted to surrender all appeals. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)More

Mississippi carried out six executions in 2012. The state does not have any others scheduled among the more than 30 people currently on its death row.

States have had difficulty finding lethal injection drugs because pharmaceutical companies began blocking the use of their products to carry out death sentences.

The Mississippi Department of Corrections revealed in court papers earlier this year that it had acquired three drugs for the lethal injection protocol: midazolam, which is a sedative; vecuronium bromide, which paralyzes the muscles; and potassium chloride, which stops the heart.

Cain told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the drugs listed in the court records were the ones being used for the execution. He would not say where the department obtained them.

Cain, the onetime head of the Louisiana state penitentiary in Angola, witnessed several executions in that neighboring state before he took up his new role in Mississippi. He stood by Cox during the execution. 

“You couldn’t make it more picture perfect than we had tonight," Cain told reporters afterward.

A group that opposes executions, Death Penalty Action, said earlier that killing an inmate who surrendered all appeals would amount to “state-sponsored suicide.” The group had petitioned Republican Gov. Tate Reeves to block the execution of Cox, but Reeves’ spokeswoman said the governor declined to intervene because Cox admitted to ”horrific crimes.” 

Attorneys from the Mississippi Office of Capital Post-Conviction Counsel represented Cox in recent years. After the state Supreme Court set his execution date, Cox sent a handwritten statement strongly objecting to their continued involvement. The office director, Krissy C. Nobile, said Tuesday that after “considerable and difficult deliberation, and out of respect for David Cox’s autonomy and stated desire,” the office did not plan any more appeals for him.

Kim Cox’s father, retired law enforcement officer Benny Kirk, said David Cox called during the night of the attack and said he had shot Kim. Benny Kirk spoke on the phone with his daughter and she told him: ”‘Daddy, I’m dying.’”

Police surrounded the house and tried to get David Cox to release his wife and the two children. Kim Cox was dead by the time the ordeal ended after more than eight hours. 

Sally Fran Ross, a retired United Methodist minister, left, holds a protest sign at the small prayer vigil at the Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman, Miss., prior to the scheduled execution of David Neal Cox, 50, Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021. Cox, who killed his estranged wife and terrorized their family in 2010, was scheduled to receive a lethal injection Wednesday evening at the penitentiary. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)More

The Associated Press does not usually identify victims of sexual assault but Cox’s stepdaughter, Lindsey Kirk, agreed to be interviewed and talk about what happened to her. She told The Associated Press last week that David Cox had sexually assaulted her for a few years when her mother was out of the house, and that he threatened to kill them if she told anyone.

While staying with her grandparents in the summer of 2009, Kirk texted her mother and told her of the assaults by her stepfather. Soon after that, David Cox was arrested and charged with statutory rape, sexual battery, child abuse and possession of methamphetamine. He was released in April 2010 without standing trial. Kim Cox obtained a restraining order against him, and she moved to her sister’s home.

Kim Cox’s family did not issue a statement after the execution.

Questions remained about whether David Cox was responsible for the 2007 disappearance of his brother’s wife, Felicia Cox, who was last seen in a neighboring county. Her daughter, Amber Miskelly, recently told WTVA-TV that David Cox was the last person to see her mother alive. After the execution, Cain said David Cox had not spoken about his sister-in-law’s disappearance.

To read more CLICK HERE

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Sex work may soon be legal in the state of New York

 In New York, selling or buying sex is illegal. That might change in the near future, reports Law360.com.

Two separate bills making their way through the state Legislature — the Stop the Violence in the Sex Trades Act and the Sex Trade Survivors Justice and Equality Act — aim to decriminalize sex work, although with significant differences.

The first bill seeks to fully decriminalize sex work for workers themselves as well as their clients and managers, while the second would only decriminalize it for sex workers. At the root of the difference between the two approaches is a philosophical tug of war: Is sex work a business like any other, or a trade that objectifies and victimizes people and needs to be stopped?

With the exception of Nevada, where prostitution is legal in most counties, sex work is illegal across the United States, so New York lawmakers are looking at countries abroad for insights.

The Stop the Violence in the Sex Trades Act, introduced by state Sen. Julia Salazar, D-Brooklyn, in 2019 and resurfaced this year as S. 3075, borrows the full decriminalization approach adopted by New Zealand in 2003 and by the Australian state of New South Wales in 1979.

The bill would decriminalize consensual sex between adults in exchange for a fee, which is currently a class B misdemeanor. It would also decriminalize use of buildings for sex work, and has a provision to expunge criminal records for prostitution-related offenses that create barriers to employment, housing and access to higher education.

"[What] we're advocating is decriminalization of two parties that agree to exchange sex, for money or for whatever they are exchanging it," Cecilia Gentili, a transgender rights activist and former sex worker who advocates for the bill, told Law360. "It's very personal for me, because I am a sex worker, and I am also a person who experienced trafficking in my life."

Gentili helped found Decrim NY, a coalition of current and former sex workers, public defenders and advocates that has led a campaign for the bill, which has six co-sponsors in the Senate. A companion bill, A. 849, was introduced by Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried, D-Manhattan, and currently has 17 co-sponsors.

Advocates of the bill seek to treat sex work as any other profession.

"Sex work is a service," Gentili said. "Sometimes it's not even about the sex. Sometimes it's like supporting a person, you know, supporting somebody in other ways and listening to people."

The rival bill, introduced by Sen. Liz Krueger, D-Manhattan, as S. 6040 in March, has a different end game: to help sex workers exit the industry by providing them with social services, housing and other types of support. The bill would make selling sex legal but still prosecute patrons and pimps. It would also continue to forbid sex workers living in the same dwelling. 

This approach, commonly referred to as the Nordic model, was first adopted by Sweden in 1999 and has since been embraced by other European countries such as Norway, Iceland, France, Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Dawn Gresham, a policy adviser to Krueger, said that most sex workers are coerced into the trade, mainly by economic circumstances. The bill would help them escape it, she said.

"People in the sex trade are victims themselves," Gresham told Law360. "Survivors report this as being raped on a daily basis. There is sexual violence they have to contend with."

To read more CLICK HERE

Monday, November 15, 2021

Reginald Rose the man behind the cinema classic '12 Angry Men'

Whenever the ABA Journal has conducted a survey to find the best legal movies or the best legal plays, 12 Angry Men has made the list. The black-and-white 1957 film about a deadlocked jury coming to a consensus in a murder trial has become a classic, one of Henry Fonda's most striking roles. As a play, 12 Angry Men is performed around the world, in many languages, in theaters large and small.

But the path to becoming a classic was not a simple one, and the man behind the script was not a simple man. In Reginald Rose and the Journey of 12 Angry Men, author and business professor Phil Rosenzweig has written the first biography about the man who brought 12 Angry Men to screen—first as a television program and then as a film.

Rosenzweig has long used the film in his classes to discuss group dynamics. Delving deeper into Reginald Rose’s work, he uncovers the background of one of the unsung pioneers of the television age. In addition to 12 Angry Men, Rose also wrote The Defenders, a seminal television show that has also been named by the ABA Journal as one of the most important legal TV series ever.

One of the striking things that Rosenzweig has observed about 12 Angry Men is the ownership that two industries feel toward it. For legal professionals, this is a script about the law and a commentary on justice; business management circles feel equally certain that this is a script about the art of persuasion and getting buy-in.

Rose claimed that the idea to write about a jury stemmed from an experience that he had when called for jury service. Through careful examination of the criminal dockets during the time, Rosenzweig has identified the real-life (but little-known) case he thinks gave Rose that inspiration. In this Modern Law Library podcasst episode, he discusses his discovery with the ABA Journal’s Lee Rawles and shares his opinion about why this script has stood the test of time.

To read more CLICK HERE

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Henry Montgomery whose case retroactively banned mandatory JLWOP is still in prison

The United States is the only country in the world that sentences children to life without the possibility of parole, according to The Atlantic. One of those children was a boy named Henry Montgomery. In 1963, Montgomery was 17 years old, and was convicted of shooting and killing a plainclothes police officer in East Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He was initially sentenced to death, but the Louisiana Supreme Court decided that racial tensions, including Ku Klux Klan activity in the area, had influenced the jury’s decision. Instead, the court resentenced him to life in prison. There is hope, however, that soon he’ll be coming home.

Montgomery is now a long way removed from the teenager he once was. He is 75 years old. He has been in prison at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, also known as Angola, for 57 years.

Sometimes numbers like this exist as abstractions. What does 57 years mean? What are 57 years spent living inside a cage? What they are is a lifetime.

When Montgomery was sent to prison, the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act had yet to be signed. Both Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X were still alive. Ruby Bridges was 9 years old. Four little girls had just been killed in the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. A gallon of gas was 30 cents and a loaf of bread was 20. The Beatles had yet to come to America. “Surfin’ U.S.A.,” by the Beach Boys, was Billboard’s No. 1 song of the year. My own parents, now in their 60s, had yet to begin kindergarten.

Today, according to the Sentencing Project, a research and advocacy organization that works to reduce incarceration in the U.S., more than 53,000 people are serving life-without-parole sentences. The state of Louisiana, where 70 percent of people serving life sentences are Black, has more people serving life sentences per capita than any other state in the country. Until recently that number included thousands of children, but two relatively recent Supreme Court cases, one of which had Henry Montgomery at its center, changed that. More than 50 years after his original sentence, Montgomery became the petitioner in a 2016 case, Montgomery v. Louisiana, in which the Court ruled that its 2012 decision, Miller v. Alabama—which banned mandatory life without parole for children—could be applied retroactively. The Miller decision was based on research demonstrating that children’s brains are not as fully developed as adults’. This seems obvious and intuitive, but new neuroscientific evidence made clear that children who commit crimes cannot be held culpable to the same extent as adults, and that they have even more of an opportunity to change.

The decisions affected more than 2,600 people who had been sentenced to life without parole, who could now be resentenced.

But simply because someone has had the opportunity to be resentenced doesn’t mean that they will be released. Miller banned juvenile life without parole as a mandatory sentence, but did not ban it outright. So although 800 people who had been previously sentenced to life without the possibility of parole have been released since the Montgomery ruling, more than 1,700 people sentenced as juveniles to life without parole across the country still remain behind bars. And despite the Supreme Court’s assertion that he is “an example of one kind of evidence that prisoners might use to demonstrate rehabilitation,” the petitioner of the case, Henry Montgomery, has remained in prison as well.

One person who is free because of Montgomery’s case is Andrew Hundley, a co-founder and the executive director of the Louisiana Parole Project. Originally sent to prison at 15 years old, Hundley served nearly 20 years in state prisons across Louisiana until 2016, when he became the first juvenile lifer in Louisiana released from prison following the Montgomery ruling. Since his own release, he has been working to get Montgomery and others out of prison. “I feel like it’s my life’s work,” he told me. He was grateful to have been released, but thought that Montgomery should have been the first one allowed to come home. “Henry was in prison for 18 years before I was born. And I’ve been home five and a half years now.”

Soon, Montgomery could join Hundley and the hundreds of other people who became free because of his 2016 case. Next Wednesday, Montgomery is scheduled to go in front of a three-person parole board that will decide whether he will be released or remain incarcerated. This will not be the first time that Montgomery has gone in front of a parole board. He has been denied parole on two occasions, mostly recently in April 2019. In each case, two of the parole-board members voted in favor of release, and one did not. In Louisiana, at that time, parole decisions had to be unanimous.

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Saturday, November 13, 2021

Mangino on Law and Crime Network

Watch my comments regarding jury selection in the Ahmaud Arbery trial on Law and Crime Network.

To watch the interview CLICK HERE

Friday, November 12, 2021

Mangino chats with Nancy Grace on Crime Stories

Listen to my appearance on Crime Stories with Nancy Grace talking about the missing mom Suzanne Morphew.

To listen to the interview CLICK HERE

Defense in Arbery trial object to black pastors being in courtroom

A defense attorney for one of the three White men charged in 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery's killing objected  to nationally recognized civil rights leaders attending the trial to support the victim's family, reported CNN.

"If we're going to start a precedent, starting yesterday, where we're going to bring high-profile members of the African-American community into the courtroom to sit with the family during the trial in the presence of the jury, I believe that's intimidating and it's an attempt to pressure," attorney Kevin Gough, who represents William "Roddie" Bryan Jr., told the court following a lunch break. "Could be consciously or unconsciously an attempt to pressure or influence the jury."

In Georgia's majority White Glynn County, where the trial is taking place, race has played a central role in the case.

Last week, following a long and contentious jury selection process, Judge Timothy Walmsley said the defense had appeared to be discriminatory in selecting the jurors but allowed the case to go forward -- with only one Black member in the panel.

Just days prior, Gough had complained that older White men from the South without four-year college degrees, "euphemistically known as 'Bubba' or 'Joe Six Pack,'" seemed to be underrepresented in the pool of potential jurors that had turned up.

The Rev. Al Sharpton joined Arbery's parents Wednesday and led a prayer vigil outside the Glynn County Courthouse, asking for a just verdict in the case and calling Arbery's killing "a lynching in the 21st century."

Sharpton said that while the country has seen some positive milestones for the Black community, such as electing former President Barack Obama and Vice President Kamala Harris, "you still can't jog through Brunswick without being shot down, like you are a suspect, only because of the color of your skin."

The judge told Gough on Thursday that he was aware Sharpton would be inside, apparently taking the place of an Arbery family member, and that he did not have an objection as long as there were no disruptions.

To read more CLICK HERE