The only two Black people added to the jury selection pool in the corruption case against former Detroit mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick, have been given their walking papers. While one juror was dismissed because of work commitments, the other refused to actually cast judgment on Kilpatrick. “I’m not God,” announced the potential juror. “I can’t judge anybody.”
For now, only six jurors have been selected —one of which was convicted of domestic assault and drug possession—after others were weeded out due to various reasons. Diversity among the jurors looks to be a major issue for Kilpatrick’s defense team, which has complained about the lack of racial variety. “Race is 90 percent of this trial,” noted local political consultant Adloph Mango. “Race will overshadow anything and everything that comes out in the first week or two of this trial.”
Out of the 220 people in the jury pool, the goal is to select 12 jurors and six alternates to determine the ex-mayor’s guilt or innocence. Prosecutors are allowed to dismiss jurors without reason, a move which can be challenged by the defense. “If the appellate court finds it [the dismissal] was based on race or sex, it results in an automatic reversal of conviction on appeal,” said former prosecutor and current law professor at Wayne State University, Peter Henning.
Kilpatrick, his father, Bernard, and two others face charges of racketeering, for allegedly using the mayor’s office to carry out criminal activity for financial gain. In the aftermath, one co-defendant, Victor Mercado, suffered one of the steepest falls from grace. Mercado,who was appointed by Kilpatrick, ran the water department earning him a $240,000 annual salary. Today he makes $10 an hour working at a hardware store in Florida.
If convicted, Kilpatrick face up to 30 years in prison.