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Race Questions Plague Tyson Trial With PM-Tyson Trial

January 29, 1992

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ Mike Tyson’s rape trial involves a black woman’s accusations against a black man, but race has become an issue because most of the prospective jurors are white.

The boxer’s lawyers have argued that minorities are underrepresented on Marion County juries because only voter registration lists are used to select the pools from which juries are drawn.

One hundred prospective jurors were summoned for the trial. A 12th juror, a white man, was selected today, leaving only the four alternates still to be named. Three of the regular jurors are black.

On Tuesday, prosecutor Greg Garrison tried to persuade Superior Court Judge Patricia Gifford to remove one prospective juror, a black man who said under the judge’s questioning that he had an opinion about the Tyson case.

When Garrison asked the same question later, the man denied having any opinion but said friends at work had expressed the belief that Tyson’s accuser ″shouldn’t have been there. She asked for it.″

″Some people ask for it - and get what they ask for?″ Garrison asked him.

″Sometimes,″ the man replied.

When the judge declined to dismiss the man, Garrison used one of his automatic challenges to do so, prompting defense attorneys to note for the record that the man is black.

In 1986, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in a Kentucky case that prosecutors may not disqualify potential jurors because of their race. The decision dramatically curtailed the power of prosecutors to use automatic challenges to shape juries.

Tyson’s lawyers have twice asked the judge to dismiss the charges because of the way potential jurors are selected, but she refused.

Census figures show that 21 percent of Marion County’s population in 1990 was black. During a Jan. 21 hearing, two Indiana University law students testified that a study they conducted showed that only 13 percent of potential jurors summoned last year were black.

Deputy Prosecutor David Dreyer said Indiana’s juror selection process is the same as in many other states, with a computer randomly selecting names from voter registration lists.

On Monday, some black leaders said they were concerned Tyson wasn’t getting a fair shake because of the jury selection issue.

State Rep. William Crawford, a Democrat from Indianapolis, said that in addition to voter rolls, officials should use driver’s license lists or lists of utility customers for calling potential jurors.

County Clerk Faye Mowery said she doubts other lists would increase the number of available blacks.

The share of blacks on the jury that was finally selected, three out of 12, amounts to 25 percent.