Black Defendant Granted New Trial After NYC Judge Expresses His Contempt for 'This Black Thing'

·4 min read

White people prove time and time again they are far too fragile and wrapped up in privilege and denial to even consider the possibility that race played a part in the way a thing unfolded.

Now, when it comes to dealing with white people who have no direct power over me, my policy is to ignore their complaints of me “making everything about race” while I practice my backstroke in their white tears. But what do we do when overly sensitive perpetual deniers of racial impact turn out to be people in power? We’ve seen the damage white lawmakers do when they decide to sign their delicate, anti-systemic racism curriculum feelings into law, but it goes deeper than that.

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What about when a judge in a court of law puts white fragility before fair judgment in dismissing the possibility that race affected how jurors were selected in a case? (It’s not like America has a long history of racially biased juries or anything.) In New York City, a Black defendant was granted a new trial Wednesday because the judge who presided over his 2016 trial expressed his discomfort with “this Black thing” being brought up by a defense attorney.

From the New York Daily News:

Five years after veteran Supreme Court Judge William Garnett blurted out his frustration with John Poppe, a Legal Aid Society public defender assigned to Wesley Brissett’s trial for criminal possession of stolen property, a state Appellate Division panel has ordered a new hearing in the case — and a different judge to hear it. Brissett was convicted in the original case.

During jury selection in Brissett’s case, Staten Island prosecutors had used up peremptory challenges to toss three of six potential Black jurors from the case, letting them remove jurors without giving a reason for it.

But Poppe wanted to know if race had sparked the dismissals — particularly for one of potential jurors who, according to the Appellate Division, “indicated that his brother was a recently retired New York City Police Department Special Victims Division detective, and that [the potential juror] had experienced an attempted burglary.”

Instead of asking prosecutors to give a “race-neutral” reason for removing three Black potential jurors, Garnett locked horns with the defense lawyer, according to trial transcripts and the appeals decision handed down Wednesday.

“I am getting a little annoyed. . . . This is not the Bronx,” Garnett fumed.

Before we go any further, let’s talk about that last quote. TF does Garnett mean by “This is not the Bronx?” Imagine being so secure in your unbridled caucasity that you make a racist comment while expressing your contempt for the possibility of racism being considered.

“There was no reason for starting this Black thing,” Garnett said after whitesplaining his opinion that Poppe had no reason to accuse the prosecution of engaging “in a pattern” of dismissing Black jurors because only half the available Black jurors were dismissed.

Garnett even went as far as to point out the number of times Poppe used his allotted challenges to “knock off female whites” from the jury panel saying the number was “almost staggering.”

What Garnett failed to consider was the fact that there were only six potential Black people in the jury pool while that same pool was still quite full because jury selection was apparently raining white women.

More from the Daily News:

One of the prosecutors, Michael Tannousis — now a Republican state assemblyman — seized on that point, asking the judge to look into “why so many female white jurors have been knocked off the jury.”

Tannousis noted Poppe had dismissed nine white women from the jury pool; Poppe shot back prosecutors had also struck seven white women and that the “overwhelming majority” of the jury pool were white women.

While the judge didn’t find a pattern of discrimination on either side, he noted his frustration about the race issue raised in the case. “We were just playing games with race on both sides,” Garnett said.

Nah, bruh—don’t try to play that “both sides” game now. Garnett made it perfectly clear in his own comments he didn’t have a problem with race being discussed in general; he only really took issue with the “Black thing.”

Fortunately, the Appellate Division disagreed with the prosecution’s disingenuous argument that a “far greater percentage of Black jurors actually served on the jury than was their percentage in the pool of prospective jurors.”

As for Garnett, this happens to be the same judge who, in 2015, ruled against releasing to the public the evidence presented to the grand jury that decided not to indict the cop whose chokehold led to the death of Eric Garner—so maybe he’s not the best person to judge when racism plays a part in things.

There are a lot of people who believe true racism requires power, and there are a lot of white officials out there who prove the merit in that notion.