Black man who accused four Louisiana troopers of racial profiling will get a retrial after a judge found racial discrimination in the jury selection process in his first trial.
What makes this case unusual is that U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan presided over Lyle Dotson’s original trial and oversaw jury selection. She admitted on Monday to making a mistake by allowing the state troopers’ attorneys to strike a potential Black juror, the Advocate reported.
In 2015, the officers arrested Dotson, an 18-year-old student at the time, while he was on a field trip to New Orleans’ French Quarter. The troopers claimed that he resembled a suspect. Without identifying themselves, the officers pushed him against a building and handcuffed him.
Officer Huey McCartney used his personal cellphone to take pictures of Dotson while he was handcuffed, according to the lawsuit. McCartney claimed that the teenager kicked him after he objected to him taking the pictures. They arrested Dotson and held him in jail for 36 hours on a battery charge, which was ultimately dismissed and expunged from his record.
In January 2018, Dotson filed a civil case against the four arresting officers. The jury found that McCartney unconstitutionally detained the teen after the officers had no reasonable suspicion to detain him. However, the jury sided with the other three troopers and rejected a series of racial profiling claims.
Dotson’s attorneys requested a retrial, arguing that the troopers’ lawyers unconstitutionally struck Marcus Henderson, a 49-year-old Black teacher, from the jury because of his race.
The troopers’ lawyers countered that they struck Henderson because he could have been sympathetic to Dotson’s father, who was also an educator. However, Dotson’s legal team noted that the troopers’ attorneys selected a white juror who was also an educator.
Racial bias in the jury selection process is an ongoing problem that the U.S. Supreme Court banned but which nevertheless continues. In April 2018, the Washington Supreme Court became the first court in the nation to adopt a specific rule banning implicit and intentional racial bias in jury selection, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.
“We look forward to a new trial where we will continue to seek justice for Lyle,” said Jim Craig, one of Dotson’s lawyers, in a statement.