Discriminatory Jury Selection: Part One – Batson Challenges

Discriminatory Jury Selection: Part One – Batson Challenges

True Story I’ve been there, sitting at the Defense table during trial and the parties had just concluded voir dire, also known as jury selection. The court was preparing to swear in a newly formed jury of my client’s peers. Juror badges were being passed out. My co-counsel was getting ready to deliver opening statements, when I looked into the eyes of each juror and saw what I believed would lead to the loss of our case. My client, a white male, accused of child abuse, unwanted sexual contact, assault, and domestic violence against the mother of his children, was now sitting across from an...

How the Colorado Criminal Justice System Fails Addicts

How the Colorado Criminal Justice System Fails Addicts

On September 10, 2018, Westword published a feature under the eye-catching headline: This Triple Homicide Hit Close to Home for Connie Jones. After reading what was panning out to be an emotional thrill-ride filled with loss, pain, and unsolved mysteries, the article also introduced the average reader to a storyline that many in the criminal justice system find uncomfortably common place. Nicole Boston was one of the victims of an unsolved triple homicide in Denver. Boston graduated as valedictorian of her high school class. Her mother described her as “headstrong and sassy.” But like many...

Treating a Growing Epidemic with Mass Incarceration

Treating a Growing Epidemic with Mass Incarceration

On September 10, 2018, Westword published a feature under the eye-catching headline: This Triple Homicide Hit Close to Home for Connie Jones. After reading what was panning out to be an emotional thrill-ride filled with loss, pain, and unsolved mysteries, the article also introduced the average reader to a story line that many in the criminal justice system find uncomfortably common place. Nicole Boston was one of the victims of an unsolved triple homicide in Denver. Boston graduated as valedictorian of her high school class. Her mother described her as “headstrong and sassy.” But like many...

Constitution's 6th Amendment Right to Counsel

Constitution's 6th Amendment Right to Counsel

When a defendant is faced with criminal charges and he’s battling the judge, the District Attorney, and what feels like the entire criminal justice system, the one person he should expect to be on his side, is his attorney. Unfortunately for Robert McCoy, he not only failed to convince a jury of his innocence at trial, he wasn’t able to convince his own attorney.

Racial Bias and the Criminal Justice System

Racial Bias and the Criminal Justice System

“The prosecutor’s opening statement was flagrantly, glaring, and tremendously improper.” Those are the words the Colorado Court of Appeals used to describe the racially charged language a District Attorney (D.A., prosecution) used to convict Marcus Lee Robinson of attempted sexual assault and unlawful sexual conduct. Flagrant, glaring, and tremendously improper.

Kyree Howard-Walker:  A Case of Mistaken Identity Part II

Kyree Howard-Walker:  A Case of Mistaken Identity Part II

In part one of this series, we discussed Kyree’s battle with the court system over the right to a fair and impartial trial by a jury of his peers. Kyree challenged the court on allowing the District Attorney (D.A.) to dismiss every minority on the jury panel for reasons Kyree felt were merely pretext. Unfortunately for Kyree, the court allowed the D.A.’s actions during trial, and Kyree’s misidentification defense fell on deaf ears. In fact, one of the jurors dismissed by the D.A. and discussed on appeal had first hand experience with being misidentified by the police and could have possibly...

Kyree Howard-Walker: A Case of Mistaken Identity Part I

Kyree Howard-Walker: A Case of Mistaken Identity Part I

I’ve been there before. We were sitting at the Defense table during trial, and the parties had just concluded voir dire, also known as jury selection. The court was preparing to swear in our newly formed jury of my client’s peers. Juror badges were being passed out. My co-counsel was getting ready to deliver opening statements, when suddenly I looked into the eyes of each juror and saw what I believed would be the downfall of our case. My client, a white male, accused of child abuse, unwanted sexual contact, assault, and domestic violence against the mother of his children, was now sitting...

How the Criminal Justice System is Failing Women

How the Criminal Justice System is Failing Women

“You can judge a nation, and how successful it will be, based on how it treats its women and its girls.” – Barack Obama Over the last four decades, there has been a rapid increase of incarcerated women in the United States. Since 1970, the number of incarcerated women skyrocketed from 8,000 to almost 110,000 by 2016.[1] On March 18, 2019, CNN reported that as of 2018, the number of women incarcerated either in local jails, state prisons, federal prison, and by the U.S. Marshals has reached an alarming 205,000.[2]

The People versus Race

The People versus Race

“The prosecutor’s opening statement was flagrantly, glaring, and tremendously improper.” Those are the words the Colorado Court of Appeals used to describe the racially charged language a District Attorney (D.A., prosecution) used to convict Marcus Lee Robinson of attempted sexual assault and unlawful sexual conduct. Flagrant, glaring, and tremendously improper.

Sixth Amendment Right to Counsel-Protecting Defendant Autonomy

Sixth Amendment Right to Counsel-Protecting Defendant Autonomy

When a defendant is faced with criminal charges and he’s battling the judge, the District Attorney, and what feels like the entire criminal justice system. The one person he should expect to be on his side, is his attorney. Unfortunately for Robert McCoy, he not only failed to convince a jury of his innocence at trial, he wasn’t able to convince his own attorney.