Akin Gump Provides Pro Bono Counsel on Amicus Brief Addressing Color Discrimination in Jury Selection

(New York) – An Akin Gump team led by corporate partner Alice Hsu is serving as pro bono counsel on an amicus brief filed with the New York Court of Appeals in People v. Bridgeforth, in which the appellant asserts that the prosecutor improperly used his peremptory strikes to exclude all dark-skinned women from the jury.

The brief discusses, among other relevant cases, Batson v. Kentucky, in which the U.S. Supreme Court held that “[a]lthough a prosecutor ordinarily is entitled to exercise peremptory challenges for any reason at all, as long as that reason is related to his view concerning the outcome of the case to be tried, the Equal Protection Clause forbids the prosecutor to challenge potential jurors solely on account of their race…” 

Twenty national and local bar associations, advocacy organizations and 32 law school professors joined the brief urging New York’s highest court to recognize that excluding an individual from jury service based on the color of her skin violates the Equal Protection Clause of the United States and New York constitutions.

Ms. Hsu said of the firm’s involvement, “Akin Gump is committed to pro bono and access to justice and is pleased to bring its appellate advocacy expertise to represent this broad coalition to ensure that New York courts eradicate color discrimination from the jury selection process.”

In addition to Ms. Hsu, Akin Gump team members advising on this matter include litigation partner Joseph Sorkin and associates Stan Chiueh and Sofie Syed; and corporate associate Chase Mechanick and law clerk Elizabeth Atkins.

To read the full brief, please click here.

Founded in 1945, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP is a leading international law firm with more than 900 lawyers in offices throughout the United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

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