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NEW YORK, NY – In Manhattan, an indictment against a Bronx suspect in a shooting was overturned by a federal judge after she determined that the suburban White Plains grand jury pool – where the case was moved to due to the COVID-19 pandemic – was made up of too many white people, according to reports.
Deborah Colson, the lawyer for defendant William Scott, had made the case that there were not enough Blacks and Hispanics represented in the grand jury pool that indicted his client in June 2020, due to Scott being charged in the suburban court instead of a more “diverse” Manhattan court.
Prosecutors did not dispute the argument of the suspect’s lawyer; instead, they defended their decision to indict Scott in White Plains by citing the difficulties with impaneling grand juries in the Manhattan Division amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Judge Analisa Torres agreed with Scott’s lawyer, and threw out the indictment, the first time this has occurred since Manhattan has moved some of its caseload to the Southern District of New York’s White Plains division due to many grand juries being suspended amid the pandemic.
“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 said in her ruling.
In addition, Torres questioned prosecutors’ decision to indict Scott in White Plains instead of Manhattan, arguing that the resources were apparently available to do so despite the pandemic.
“Inexplicably, the government offers no reason for its decision to indict defendant in the White Plains Division,” she said. “The government does not say that the Manhattan Division grand jury was unavailable; in fact, a grand jury was convened there days before defendant’s indictment.”
Judge Torres immediately tossed out the indictment against Scott; however, prosecutors will be able to indict the suspect again within 60 days if they so wish, reports say.