Juries must be integrated to be fully respected
The all-white jury's acquittal of a white teenager charged with killing and beating his black classmate may have been correct. After all, doctors' testimony appeared to contradict a prosecution eyewitness' account that the defendant jumped and kicked the decedent in the head ("Jurors found doctors more believable than witness," May 14).
While this may be sufficient to raise a reasonable doubt of guilt, it is understandable that many refuse to embrace the verdict. Historically, all-white jury verdicts have been suspect in interracial crimes involving a white defendant and a black victim.
Too often, these juries have acquitted the defendant despite strong evidence of guilt.
Studies show that in close cases, the jury's racial makeup is critical. Consider the reaction of the two African-Americans who sat as alternate jurors. While their white colleagues voted not guilty, both said they would have convicted on some counts.
Both heard the same evidence that the white jurors heard. Apparently they evaluated it differently.
For the entire community to accept the fairness of the verdict, the jury had to be multiracial and include black representation. Only then could we ensure the case was judged on evidence and not the parties' race.
The need to focus on jury selection is the most important lesson prosecutors must apply in prosecuting similar cases.
The writer is a professor at the University of Maryland School of Law.
Kane is correct on murder case
Gregory Kane's column "In a street fight, you get street justice" (May 14) was right on target. When Noah Jamahl Jones and company made the decision to trespass onto private property in the belief that they were rescuing their friend from a perceived threat, they went from being a group of friends out for the night to an armed posse of vigilantes.
As for the fact that the jury was all white, there is a process for jury selection. Both defense and prosecuting attorneys must agree on who jury members will be.
Maybe the black community should be asking why the prosecuting team agreed to an all-white jury.
In Mr. Kane's column, activist Carl O. Snowden remarks that if six blacks had beaten a white person to death, someone would have been held criminally responsible, meaning one of the alleged black assailants.
But if Jacob Tyler Fortney had died that night, would there be a demand for the federal Justice Department to investigate black racism?
Gerry T. Deba
Boat wouldn't block view of the harbor
As a lover of downtown and the waterfront, I wholeheartedly agree that too much of the water view is being blocked ("Plan to dock boat at pier doesn't float in Fells Point," May 16). But I don't think having the paddle-wheel boat The Black-Eyed Susan docked at the Broadway Pier in Fells Point would add to the problem.
And it certainly would not shield the harbor from public view, the way the Fells Point Task Force says it would.
The boat draws only favorable interest as it plies the harbor. And I don't think it matters if "its design is associated with Mississippi River Boats, not traditional Chesapeake Bay side-wheelers," as Robert C. Keith suggests. How many of us would really know the difference?
I think having the boat in such a public area would attract visitors and tourists, as it is a unique vessel.
I see the boat as an added attraction to Fells Point. It's the tall buildings being erected close to the waterfront that I see as a detriment to the view of the harbor.
Rushing to judge an accused officer
I think the media have been too quick to judge Baltimore police Officer William A. King ("Rumors followed two officers," May 14).
This is a man who risked his life every day to serve Baltimore. He served for years in the Army, including service in the Persian Gulf war, and has served 10 years as a police officer.
I've worked with Officer King, and I've always known him to be a very hardworking, responsible, friendly person.
Before his arrest, I never heard anyone say a negative thing about Officer King. If anything, I've always believed that Baltimore needed more cops like him.
Everyone needs to consider how much this man has done in his life to benefit the city. But the media have already assumed his guilt. He needs to be given a chance to state his side of the story before everyone rushes to judgment.
Busch holds tracks hostage to politics
House Speaker Michael E. Busch's comments about Magna Entertainment Corp.'s request to revive slots legislation show that the speaker is either out of touch with reality or being dishonest with the people of Maryland ("Magna tries slots again," May 13).
He questions why Magna should receive a "subsidy" of slots revenue when it lost money last year. Who does Mr. Busch think deserves a subsidy? A business that is making money? Can you imagine him favoring slots if the racetracks were profitable?