Calling the conduct of the San Diego City Attorney’s office “shocking,” a California judge dismissed an entire jury panel Tuesday after finding that prosecutors violated the defendants’ rights in a misdemeanor case brought over a civil rights protest by refusing to seat a juror due to his sexual orientation.
Superior Court Judge Joan Weber said defendants were denied a representative jury of their peers by the prosecution’s challenge of the gay juror. However, prosecutors said they had nixed the juror because his questionnaire showed he had himself protested over gay rights issues in the past, not because of his sexual orientation.
The misdemeanor case concerns six individuals arrested in an 2010 protest at the county clerk’s office related to the Proposition 8 ban of same-sex marriage in California and a subsequent ruling by a federal judge that the initiative was unconstitutional.
Prosecutors could opt to try again, starting over with jury selection from the beginning. However, Weber is urging San Diego to reduce the charges against the six defendants from misdemeanors to infractions.
There’s no word yet on what happened at a Wednesday case management hearing.