The lawyers for six Black Souls gang leaders convicted on racketeering and drug conspiracy charges last year are now seeking a judge’s approval to speak a with a juror who reportedly made explosive claims about racist behaviour during the jury’s chaotic closed-door deliberations.
According to the Chicago Tribune, lawyers filed an affidavit from the sister of defendant Antwan Davis, in which she alleged that a Black juror told her that other jurors shouted insults, used the N-word and even threw chairs and jumped on tables as they struggled to reach a verdict in December.
“Yes, they were calling us every name but the child of God,” the affidavit quoted the unnamed juror as telling Davis’ sister, Shira Davis, 28. Davis claims she talked to the juror on the phone on March 5 after first reaching out to her on social media.
Though historically it’s been difficult to get a judge to alter a verdict based on later complaints by a juror, the lawyers, in their filing, cited a 2017 U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing a judge weighing a new trial to review whether jurors acted with racist intentions in order to reach a verdict. The lawyers are now awaiting the green light from Judge Michael McHale to interview the juror.
Deliberations in the nearly two-month trial came to a complete stop last year after jurors passed a note to the judge alleging racism and chauvinism in the jury room, the Chicago Tribune reported. McHale was forced to remove fire jurors from the panel after one allegedly made racist remarks, another lied on her jury questionnaire and a third passed out and had to be treated by paramedics. The remaining two were ousted for protesting the fairness of jury’s legal instructions, according to the newspaper.
McHale replaced the jurors with five alternates who would go on to convict the six gang leaders of racketeering and drug conspiracy. Each is facing life behind bars.