Ex-Alameda County prosecutors accused of tossing Black, Jewish jurors in death-penalty cases

Former Alameda County prosecutors excluded Black and Jewish jurors from death penalty cases, prompting a federal judge to order a review of dozens of such cases, said District Attorney Pamela Price on Monday.

"This is not about left or right or any kind of politics. This is about ethics," Price said at a news conference outside the San Francisco Federal Building, where the judge is based.

"Prosecutors in the Alameda County District Attorney's Office appeared to have intentionally excluded Jewish and Black jurors from death penalty cases," said Price, referring to attorneys who worked under her predecessors.


Scott Peterson attempts to poke holes in murder conviction through LA Innocence Project

New attorneys for convicted killer Scott Peterson returned on Tuesday to San Mateo County courthouse to resume trying to poke holes in his guilty conviction for killing his wife, Laci, and their unborn child more than 20 years ago.

About three dozen death penalty cases are now under review, she said.

"My office discovered evidence of a pattern of misconduct, prosecutorial misconduct that may well impact all of the death penalty cases in Alameda County," Price said.

The allegations surfaced during a review of the case against Ernest Dykes, who is on Death Row after being convicted of murdering 9-year-old Lance Clark in East Oakland in 1993 and injuring his grandmother Bernice Clark during a robbery attempt.

Price said her office found handwritten notes that show prosecutors purposely excluding Jewish and Black female jurors from the jury pool.

Brian Pomerantz, an attorney representing Dykes and several other Death Row inmates whose cases may be affected said, "This has been something that's been going on in Alameda for - it's been the worst kept secret."

Pomerantz said the notes also include purportedly race-neutral explanations as to why jurors were tossed.

"So these aren't just notes saying, 'We don't like these jurors for this reason.' It was a scheme to be able to get away with it," he said.

He provided at least one rationale for why prosecutors may have chosen to exclude Jewish jurors.

"It was a belief at the time that because the gas chamber was what was used in California, that Jewish jurors would not want to send people to the gas chamber," he said.

Pomerantz said it took Price, a progressive DA who ran on a platform to reform the criminal justice system, to bring these allegations to light.

"It took Pamela Price to bring this about. It should have happened in a previous administration," Pomerantz said. "This was a courageous act. This was a courageous act on District Attorney Pamela Price's part."

Henry Lee is a KTVU crime reporter. E-mail Henry at Henry.Lee@fox.com and follow him on Twitter @henrykleeKTVU and www.facebook.com/henrykleefan