Jena Six Update

Remember the Jena Six? Almost a year and a half after the school fight that set this national scandal in motion, and more than half a year after an estimated 20,000 civil rights protesters descended on the small Louisiana town to demand justice for the black defendants, only one of them has faced trial. In a certain sense, given the brand of Jim Crow justice that has prevailed in Jena, that’s a good thing. District Attorney Reed Walters, working in open coordination with his tag-team partner Judge J.P. Mauffray Jr., undermined generally accepted rules of procedure in order to throw the biggest book at Mychal Bell as quickly as possible. Last June Bell, a juvenile at the time of the fight, was convicted as an adult by an all-white jury of aggravated second-degree battery and conspiracy (the original charge was attempted murder). But the Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeals vacated his conviction in September, just before the rally, and ruled that he should have been tried as a juvenile. He pleaded guilty in a new hearing in December and is serving out his sentence in juvenile detention. The other defendants, facing similar charges–one is being charged as a juvenile, the rest as adults–remain in legal limbo.

Yesterday that limbo was extended further. According to this update, motions for three of the Jena Six defendants will continue pending an appeal filed by their attorneys. “Those representing Carwin Jones, Bryant Purvis and Theo Shaw said that…Mauffray had previously denied motions before him to recuse himself as the trial judge in their cases without a hearing,” the AP reports. “The attorneys feel Mauffray has an unfair bias in the case, according to motions filed. His denial to their recusal request has been appealed to the 3rd Circuit, so Mauffray said he won’t hear other motions until that appeal is decided.”

Justice delayed, as they say…


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