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Thread: Murder Appeal Raises Confederate Flag Issue

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    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    Default Murder Appeal Raises Confederate Flag Issue

    The Louisiana Supreme Court is expected to hear a novel argument Monday in the long-standing debate over the legacy of the Confederate flag: Is it so prejudicial that its presence at the courthouse justifies overturning a murder conviction?


    A Confederate monument outside the courthouse in Shreveport, La.


    The case involves an attempt to overturn a 2009 death sentence against a black defendant on grounds that flying the flag outside a state courthouse was prejudicial to his case.

    Felton Dorsey, an African American was sentenced to death in Shreveport, La., for killing Joe Prock, a white firefighter, during a robbery of the home of Mr. Prock's mother.

    Mr. Dorsey claims he is innocent and seeks to overturn the conviction on numerous grounds, including that prosecutors used unreliable accomplice testimony. But race is a central part of the appeal. Mr. Dorsey contends that prosecutors improperly removed most of the prospective black jurors from the case, resulting in a jury of 11 whites and one African American.

    He claims to have suffered additional discrimination due to the Confederate flag that has flown outside the Caddo Parish courthouse in Shreveport since 1951.

    "The quintessential symbol of white supremacy looms over the courthouse," he said in his appellate brief.

    For some in the South, the Confederate flag is a reminder of slavery. For others, the flag serves as a neutral memorial to Civil War veterans, and it has been the subject of many political and legal challenges in the South over the years.

    Critics say it demeans blacks, while defenders see it as an important historical symbol, and contend it deserves free-speech protection.

    Protests followed a decision last month from the board of commissioners in Dodge County, Ga., to fly the flag year-round outside the courthouse in honor of Confederate soldiers. Dodge County commissioner Archie Dupree Sr. declined to comment. In Palestine, Texas, a similar controversy arose last month after a county board of commissioners approved hoisting the flag outside a local courthouse; it was later taken down following complaints.

    Several courts in the past decade have dealt with cases brought by students who claimed their free-speech rights were violated after they were suspended from school for wearing clothes adorned with depictions of the flag. Generally, courts have ruled that school administrators can restrict students from displaying the flag, in order to remove the threat of violence.

    Confederate flags are located near a small number of courthouses in the South, according to lawyers and civil-rights advocates.

    But it is rare, if not unprecedented, to claim that the flag justifies overturning a death sentence, they say, because it is difficult to find case-specific evidence that the flag had a discriminatory impact on a conviction.

    Mr. Dorsey's legal team believes it has just such evidence—the transcript of the jury selection in the case.

    Carl Staples, a prospective black juror, was struck from the case by prosecutors after complaining about the flag.

    The flag "is a symbol of one of the most…heinous crimes ever committed," Mr. Staples said, according to court briefs. "You're here for justice and then again you overlook this great injustice by continuing to fly this flag," he added, calling the flag "salt in the wounds of…people of color."

    "When I was screened for the jury, it welled up inside of me and I expressed my feelings," Mr. Staples said in an interview. A part-time radio engineer and announcer in Shreveport, he said, "I don't understand how judges or lawyers allowed that flag to stand."

    Cecelia Trenticosta, counsel to Mr. Dorsey, said she previously had considered challenging the Confederate flag in Caddo Parish but had not because she never had a case where someone had complained on the record about the flag. "This flag has been flying for 60 years, and a brave citizen finally spoke up and said the emperor is naked," said Ms. Trenticosta, who specializes in death-penalty appeals.

    The American Civil Liberties Union, the NAACP's Shreveport Chapter, and a group of university professors filed a court brief supporting Mr. Dorsey's claim that the Confederate flag prejudiced his case and violated his due-process rights.

    "This case will give the Louisiana Supreme Court an opportunity to send a message that a Confederate flag on courthouse grounds is intolerable," said ACLU attorney Anna Arceneaux.

    Suzanne Owen, a lawyer with the Caddo Parish District Attorney's Office who is defending the conviction, did not return calls for comment.

    In an appellate brief, the District Attorney's Office denied that prosecutors discriminated against blacks in assembling the jury. The brief does not address the Confederate flag.

    Charles McMichael, a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, a Tennessee-based group that seeks to preserve the legacy of Confederate veterans, called it "idiotic" for Mr. Dorsey to try use the flag to overturn his conviction.

    "I don't care if there had been the Barnum & Bailey Circus, the Space Shuttle or whatever in front of the courthouse, he would have still gotten the death penalty." Mr. McMichael, a Shreveport civics teacher, said the flag is simply a neutral memorial to soldiers and should not be taken down merely because some find it offensive. "If you got rid of everything that offended someone you would have to get rid of everything."


    Murder Appeal Raises Confederate Flag Issue - WSJ.com
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    Elite Member nancydrew's Avatar
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    Are you fucking kidding me? He broke into someone's home, then he killed them. What the fuck does the Confederate flag and prejudice have to do with the fact that he murdered someone? Not to mention this probably wasn't his first robbery rodeo. Fuck this dude, and fuck his lawyers for even trying to get his appeal on the behalf of a goddamn flag.
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    If he can prove the white jurors were racist that's one thing, but why is he trying to suggest that because someone is white they can't look at the facts in the case and come up with a decision? Does white skin automatically make you prejudiced and incapable of being fair?

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    In college my roommate was wearing a union jack t-shirt she picked up in England over the summer and this very angry looking black dude strode over to her on the quad and growled, "Do you know what that shirt means?"

    My roommate raised her eyebrows and said, "Um, 'Huzzah for England', I suppose?"

    He looked at her shirt a second time and stomped away.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WhateverLolaWants View Post
    In college my roommate was wearing a union jack t-shirt she picked up in England over the summer and this very angry looking black dude strode over to her on the quad and growled, "Do you know what that shirt means?"

    My roommate raised her eyebrows and said, "Um, 'Huzzah for England', I suppose?"

    He looked at her shirt a second time and stomped away.

    Sometimes people don't even know what makes them angry.

    NOw that is some funny shit
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    I completely understand why African-Americans see the Confederate flag as racist (and I agree with them in most cases), but it doesn't apply in this case. The guy broke into someone's home and killed someone. Man up and pay your penalty douchebag.

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    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    I don't know if he did it, all I know is he was convicted of it, and people are sometimes wrongfully convicted. And he does have a right to an appeal. I do think 11 out of 12 jurors being white could indicate that prejudice was at work here. A potential black juror was dismissed from serving on the jury because he objected to the flag. That is kind of suspect as well.

    And leaving this case aside, I think that the issue raised regarding the flag is legitimate.
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    Silver Member Popsicle's Avatar
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    WhateverLolaWants
    Let me guess, that was in the South? The same place where I was called Italian/French/German after saying I was from Britain.

    The Union Jack is a controversial flag too, it isn't the flag for England, it represents three other countries other than England.

    And wearing it places like Scotland and Ireland will not make you popular, it is not appropriate for political reasons.

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    Elite Member WhateverLolaWants's Avatar
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    Oooh, interesting! I didn't know feelings ran quite so hot in that regard. Good to know

    Although I will note that, being not completely clueless, I had a pretty good guess that might be the case when I was traveling through Northern Ireland.

    And yes, this took place in Texas.
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    Elite Member Mel1973's Avatar
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    Goshdammit! Is there any race-related thread that Texas won't be drug into? When we were in school, I remember it being a big thing where the black students would wear a Malcolm X shirt and the white students wore the "You wear your X and I'll wear mine" with a confederate flag as their x. Meh, I could give a shit. Most people that I know don't view the Confederate flag as = slavery. They view it as part of their heritage. Is slavery a part of that? For some people, yes. But I can tell you that my people didn't own any slaves.
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    Quote Originally Posted by estonia View Post
    If he can prove the white jurors were racist that's one thing, but why is he trying to suggest that because someone is white they can't look at the facts in the case and come up with a decision? Does white skin automatically make you prejudiced and incapable of being fair?
    To many, yes, unfortunately.

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    Elite Member Sarzy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Popsicle View Post
    Let me guess, that was in the South? The same place where I was called Italian/French/German after saying I was from Britain.

    The Union Jack is a controversial flag too, it isn't the flag for England, it represents three other countries other than England.

    And wearing it places like Scotland and Ireland will not make you popular, it is not appropriate for political reasons.
    It represents Scotland but I know the Scots prefer their own Scottish flag. Not sure about using it in Ireland.

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    Elite Member sputnik's Avatar
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    why do they even fly the confederate flag anymore? you lost, deal with it. and given the nasty connotations associated with it, that's even more of a reason to give it up. i know that not all southerners owned slaves or supported slavery and that it's not all it stands for but that is what most people associate it with.
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    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    I don't have an issue with private individuals using or displaying the flag, my personal feelings aside. Free speech. I think that on public or government buildings it's an issue.
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    Elite Member shedevilang's Avatar
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    The flag is part of a confederate memorial that stands outside the courthouse, it's a memorial for those who died during the war under that flag. And also that is not an official confederate flag, I don't know what the hell that flag is I'm going to research it some and I'll get back with ya'll lol.
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