From The Los Angeles Times: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-jurors-sexual-orientation-20110805,0,6750375.story
An appellate panel hears arguments in an assault case against a gay inmate in which a lesbian was dismissed during jury selection. Defense lawyers want the panel to consider constitutional issues.
By Carol J. Williams, Los Angeles Times
August 5, 2011
August 5, 2011
Trial lawyers should be barred from dismissing potential jurors because of their sexual orientation, defense attorneys argued Thursday in a case that, if successful, could extend constitutional protection from discrimination to homosexuality along with race, creed and gender.
The arguments made to a panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena arose from a prosecutor's decision last year to strike a lesbian from the jury weighing assault charges brought against a gay Nigerian inmate at the federal lockup in Los Angeles.
The Obama administration has called for "heightened scrutiny" of laws and practices that target gays, and the government has lately expressed its concern about the constitutionality of differing treatment of spouses in same-sex marriages.
In Nigerian-born Daniel Osazuwa's appeal of his assault conviction before three of the most liberal judges of the 9th Circuit, attorneys with the federal public defender's office argued that gays and lesbians should be added to the classes of citizens considered vulnerable to discrimination and accorded better protection of their rights.
Deputy Public Defender James H. Locklin asked the 9th Circuit panel to find that Osazuwa's trial judge erred in accepting a bogus reason for the prosecutor's dismissal of the lesbian during jury selection.