An all-white jury was selected yesterday to hear the federal court trial of two black political leaders accused of mail and vote fraud after a federal prosecutor eliminated all black prospective jurors.
"I think the government's action was shameful," said defendant Spiver Gordon, a civil rights activist, after the 12 white jurors and two white alternates were picked.
The jury was to return today for opening statements in the trial of Gordon and Frederick Daniels, charged with absentee ballot fraud in a 1984 primary election in Greene County.
Defense attorneys asked for a mistrial after prosecutors eliminated the six blacks who were in the pool of 47 prospective jurors.
"The government had six strikes. They exercised all six strikes against six black jurors," said defense attorney Lewis Pitts, a lawyer who specializes in civil rights cases.
He said defense attorneys asked U.S. District Court Judge E.B. Haltom Jr. to declare a mistrial in the case after the government's second strike of a black. "The judge overruled our motions," Pitts said.
U.S. Attorney Frank Donaldson of Birmingham, saying he was aware that an all-white jury had been selected in the case, said, "I have no comment to any question in view of the fact that we are in the trial of the case."