Paul L. Caron

Monday, March 24, 2008

Is Wesley Snipes' Conviction by All-White Jury Vulnerable After Snyder?

I previously blogged Wesley Snipes scheduled April 24 sentencing on his conviction on three misdemeanor counts of failure to file tax returns.  Ellen Podgor (Stetson) asks whether the denial of Snipes' change of venue request on the ground of the absence of black jurors in the jury pool will have added force in light of the Supreme Court's March 19 decision in Snyder v. Louisiana, No. 06-10119, holding that a prosecutor's peremptory strikes of certain prospective jurors on the basis of race was constitutional error.

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Posted by: Gloria Alee | Apr 24, 2008 11:40:03 PM

Snyder involved an application of Batson, which holds that peremptory challenges cannot be made for race-based reasons. The remedy for a Batson violation is a new trial. If I were Mr. Snipes, the last thing I would want would be a new trial.

Posted by: Walter | Mar 25, 2008 9:23:40 AM

Although I agree with you, ALP, I think the all white jury was purposeful on the Snipes legal team's account for this very reason. After making a huge stink @ the KKK in Florida and wanting a change of venue, they then deliberately chose an all white jury... It was a ploy, I think, for an appeal if the verdict was bad, and mitigation in sentencing.

Posted by: Kelly | Mar 25, 2008 6:45:52 AM

Kim, which law are you referring to?

Could you please show me the law that requires him to file and pay taxes?

Posted by: Bill | Mar 25, 2008 6:35:40 AM

I fail to see how race, color, creed, gender, or any other factor could influence a juror's decision to conclude that the evidence in Mr. Snipes' case established:

1. Mr. Snipes was a person required to file a return;
2. Mr. Snipes failed to file at the time required by law; and
3. Mr. Snipes failure to file was willful.

#1 & #2 were a given. The only issue for the jury was willfulness.

And don't forget, he was acquitted of violating section 7203, failure to file, for some of the years charged (along with every other crime he was charged with). I don't think the race card is a strong play in this instance.

Posted by: Adjunct Law Prof. | Mar 24, 2008 5:57:08 PM

The jury should have used their right
of nullification where income taxes
are concerned.

Posted by: Kim | Mar 24, 2008 5:12:19 PM

Take a look at what Peter Hendrickson has to say about this case at search the newsletters. The chosen jury has little to decide concerning the rule of law.

Posted by: sandman | Mar 24, 2008 3:59:07 PM