Federal judge tosses NYC gun case over racial makeup of grand jury

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A federal judge in Manhattan tossed an indictment against a Bronx shooting suspect because of a lack of racial diversity in the White Plains grand jury pool — the first such ruling since city cases were moved to the suburban county amid the pandemic.

Judge Analisa Torres sided with defendant William Scott, who had argued that Black and Hispanic people were underrepresented in the grand jury pool that returned an indictment against him in June of last year.

Scott was charged with possessing ammunition in connection to a shooting in the Bronx, but was charged in the Southern District of New York’s White Plains division.

A seagull flies past One World Trade Center and the Empire State Building as seen from the Staten Island Ferry on Sept. 4, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Gary Hershorn/Getty Images)

His attorney had argued that because Scott was charged in the White Plains division — instead of the district’s more diverse Manhattan division — prosecutors excluded potential jurors from southern counties of the district.

“Defendant has produced clear statistical evidence of underrepresentation of Black and Latinx individuals in the pool from which his grand jury was drawn, and a jury selection process that was susceptible to abuse,” Torres wrote in the opinion.

Prosecutors had stated they charged the case in the White Plains division “amidst a global pandemic that suspended grand juries across the country,” according to the opinion.

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But, Torres wrote, prosecutors did not argue a Manhattan grand jury was unavailable and noted that a separate one was convened there days before Scott’s indictment.

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Torres’ decision was the first time a judge tossed an indictment since prosecutors began charging city cases in the White Plains division amid the pandemic, a source said.

Scott’s indictment was dismissed immediately after the opinion, but prosecutors have the ability to seek another indictment against him within 60 days.

This story first appeared in the New York Post.


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