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Darrell Brooks Trial: Defense attorney discusses concerns typically raised with an all-white jury

One attorney said if Darrell Brooks had retained his lawyers, instead of deciding to represent himself, they would have likely brought up the issue.
Brooks in court
Posted at 9:54 PM, Oct 05, 2022

MILWAUKEE — Opening statements in the Darrell Brooks trial are expected to start on Thursday. Brooks, the man accused of driving an SUV through the Waukesha Christmas parade killing six people and injuring dozens, will be defending himself in front of an all-white jury. Brooks is African American.

Local defense attorney Jonathan LaVoy said that an all-white jury with a Black defendant would typically sound alarms with a lawyer.

Darrell Brooks
Darrell Brooks objects to testimony as he appears via video from an adjacent courtroom after being removed by Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Jennifer Dorow for repeated interruptions in a Waukesha County Circuit Court during the third day of his trial in Waukesha, Wis., Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022. Brooks, who is representing himself during the trial, is accused of killing six people and injuring dozens more when he allegedly drove his SUV through a Christmas parade in Wisconsin last year. (Scott Ash/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel via AP, Pool)

"We want a fair trial. Even a person who has done what Mr. Brooks has done, we want the process to be fair," LaVoy said. "In this situation, because it's an all-white jury with an African American defendant, I think one could argue that there's concerns whether it's a fair trial for Mr. Brooks."

LaVoy recalled a case he was on in Waukesha County just last year where there was a similar jury.

"We raised a similar issue to that and the judge did require the prosecutor in that case to make a record of why they struck people of color from the record as part of the appeal," LaVoy said.

Darrell Brooks
Darrell Brooks, right, argues with Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Jennifer Dorow on Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022, in Waukesha, Wis. Brooks, who is representing himself during the trial, is accused of killing six people and injuring dozens more when he allegedly drove his SUV through a Christmas parade in Wisconsin last year. (Scott Ash/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel via AP, Pool)

He said if Brooks had retained his lawyers, instead of deciding to represent himself, they would have likely also brought up the issue.

"Without a doubt, if he had lawyers working on the case they would've raised a Batson Challenge and would've protected him as it relates to the jury panel," LaVoy said.

According to Cornell Law, the Batson Challenge raises concerns over the other party excluding "a potential juror based on race, ethnicity, or sex." If the Batson Challenge is successful, it can lead to a new trial.

But, LaVoy said a new trial is unlikely.

Darrell Brooks
Darrell Brooks appears in a Waukesha County Circuit Court for his trial in Waukesha, Wis., on Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022. Brooks, who is representing himself during the trial, is accused of killing six people and injuring dozens more when he allegedly drove his SUV through a Christmas parade in Wisconsin last year. (Scott Ash/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel via AP, Pool)

"Since he didn't file any challenge, I believe he's waived that right to challenge it and it really isn't going to be an issue and the trial is going to move without any issue," LaVoy explained.

He said it's also unlikely Brooks would be able to successfully appeal after the trial is over.

"If we would have brought it up to the judge and the judge would've ruled against him, he would have preserved his right to appeal. But since he didn't raise that issue to the judge, the court of appeals is going to look at that issue and say it was waived," LaVoy said.

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