Prosecutors’ notes on jurors upend dozens of convictions

Our law and justice lead brings us to California where dozens of cases are under review after a recently discovered case file from the 1990s showed prosecutors private notes where they tracked whether potential jurors were black or Jewish. Remember, by law, prosecutors are not allowed to decide a jury based on race, ethnicity or gender. Nick Watt reveals how old hand scribbled notes may end up freeing convicts on death row. Lance Clark was nine years old when he was shot dead in Oakland, CA Ernest Dykes, convicted of his murder, sentenced to death. But Lance's family tells CNN that they've been told by the DA's office that Dykes will be out of prison in nine months to a year. And they say Lance is missed every day. He was robbed of a future. Why might Dykes get out as an assistant? DA found and disclosed handwritten notes about potential jurors from the trial back in 1995. This is a male black juror. See, someone has written here. Must go further down on this card. I liked him better than any other Jew, but no way they just thought Jewish jurors were more liberal. As one prosecutor said, black people don't like police. There were no black jurors in this case. There were no Jewish jurors, no Jewish jurors. The DA, Pamela Price, had no comment on the expected release, but earlier she did tell us this. Mr. Dykes has spent 31 years behind bars and so he has paid a price for that crime. She says this guy, Maurice Jacobson, was among the prosecuting attorneys on the case. We know he was involved in jury selection. Yes. Unclear if a prosecutor or someone else wrote these words. He is now a judge here in Alameda County, works here in this courthouse behind me. We called a couple of times, asked for an interview. He said no court is over for the day. We've been waiting for a couple of hours to try and catch him on his way out. We haven't seen him. A federal judge believes this issue is much wider, that in prior decades, prosecutors from this office were engaged in a pattern of serious misconduct, automatically excluding Jewish and African American jurors in death penalty cases. When you have serious prosecutorial misconduct, that means that the conviction is a wrongful conviction. And so it's a question of whether or not we're able to negotiate a resolution or whether we have to go back to trial. That federal judge has now ordered the DA's office to review 35 capital cases, among them convicted serial killers, mass shooters, rapists and murderers dating from the 1980s through 2007. The only other solution is that they get out for for some that may be the solution and for some that should be the solution, right. Like, like I said, I, I believe Mr. Schmeck did not do the crime. Sentenced to die for killing Lauren Germaine during an armed robbery in the mid 80s. The victim's daughter just spoke to CNN. He was a fun dad. He would always take us fishing and camping, and my mom worked swing shift, so he was the guy home at night. He even was the tooth fairy. She was too afraid to show her face for my biggest fears. What if he gets out of jail? Just that somebody out there hurt my dad. And then he's going to be out there and who's to say he's not going to hurt me? Brian Pomerance is looking through all those 35 case files. In almost all the cases we've seen lists like this. And if we have names and next to it, you'll see MB, right, male black, OK, FB female black. Or they were writing the race only of African Americans. They weren't writing the race of anyone else in 2008, 2008. Do you also contend that this issue was then covered up over the years? Absolutely, I believe that's true. There was knowledge. There had to be knowledge because during an appeal in 2003, a former Alameda deputy DA testified it was standard practice to exclude Jewish jurors in death cases as it was to exclude African American women. It is ironic. They didn't want me on the jury and now I'm the District Attorney. This is from the 1992 case file of Franklin Lynch, AKA The Day Stalker convicted of murdering 3 elderly women. But during jury selection, half me, they were so concerned about that person even being half black that they flagged it not once, twice. I mean, Franklin Lynch was convicted and is basically a serial killer. He's now somebody that should catch a break because of this. This is a tragedy on all level, right? There are victims families who are suffering because now these cases 30 years later are are coming back. It is wrong. It's also wrong when Franklin Lynch doesn't get a fair trial. So that federal judge is now investigating. The District Attorney is involved. The state attorney general is involved. But, you know, for the prosecutors, for those prosecutors, even if it is proved that they did engage in this kind of jury tampering, there aren't really many consequences. They can be disbarred, but frankly, most of them are retired now anyway. And in terms of the bigger picture, we were talking about Alameda County, California, but we have found instances of similar jewellery tampering elsewhere in California, Washington state, Connecticut, the South. It's really unclear nationally quite how far, quite how deep this issue might be.

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