Baltimore Mayor’s Jury Mostly Black, Female

Published November 12, 2009

An anonymous jury of five Black women, two Black men and two White women, one White man, one Asian woman and a woman whose race was unclear will decide the fate of Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon, who’s standing trial on corruption charges, Maryland’s Daily Record reports. Three Black women and three Black men are the alternate jurors, according to the paper.

Dixon, the first woman to serve as the city’s mayor and first African American to be elected as its City Council president, is accuse of using gift cards intended for needy families for personal purposes.

The 12-person panel and six alternates were hewn from an initial pool of hundreds to 137 on Monday, to 59 by Tuesday afternoon, the Record reports.

“We’re satisfied with the jury and we look forward to a fair trial,” Arnold M. Weiner, one of Dixon’s lawyers, told the paper. “And you know the result we’ll be asking for.”

 State Prosecutor Robert A. Rohrbaugh, who has been investigating Dixon’s finances for years, declined to comment on the jury he approved or on the upcoming trial, which could run through Thanksgiving.

 Earlier this week, NAACP officials and others questioned the motives behind Rohrbaugh’s decision to try the mayor, saying that the amount of money allegedly diverted by Dixon for personal use – about $1,400 – seemed too meager to warrant such aggressive prosecution. Many critics have suggested that Dixon has been targeted by some who would like to see the popular Democratic mayor replaced with a White Republican. Dixon has denied any wrongdoing.

 Visiting Judge Dennis M. Sweeney told the jurors, who wore special brown stickers, to avoid telling people beyond their families and employers that they are hearing the case.

 “We’re trying to insulate you as much as possible,” said Sweeney, who writes a column on jury management for The Daily Record. “I hope you have a pleasant experience. … You are performing a very important public service for the parties in this case.”

 

Written by BET.com Staff

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