Jurors who were the subject of background checks by the City of Chicago found two Chicago police officers not guilty Tuesday of improperly arresting and planting drugs on a man without a warrant.
The judge on the brief, two-day case brought by Chicago resident Jimmie Butler ruled Thursday the city could check potential jurors‚ arrest records on the case.
U.S. District Judge Matthew F. Kennelly said lawyers could challenge jurors based on those records during, but not after, jury selection.
In a civil trial two weeks ago represented by the same attorney, Jeffrey Granich, city lawyers ran the rap sheet of a juror based on an “instinct” he was lying about his arrest history. The juror was tossed out because he lied about eight prior arrests.
During jury selection for Butler’s case, city lawyers ran the rap sheets of all potential jurors, four of whom had rap sheets. All four, said Granich, were minorities.
“This is a way for the city to get minorities off juries,” he said.
City attorney Avi Kamionski denied that claim and said the city looked up the records of all the potential jurors, but only four had rap sheets. To have a fair trial in a case alleging mistreatment by police, he said it was necessary to have unbiased jurors.
“The goal is a fair jury,” he said. “A fair jury is what we want.”
But since Kamionski did not question one of the jurors directly about an undisclosed arrest for driving on a suspended license, Kennelly would not throw the juror out, Granich said.
Granich said Kennelly did a fair job making sure “no shenanigans went on” regarding jurors‚ raps. He said he hopes a federal ruling on running rap sheets will settle the issue.