The State Supreme Court has tossed out a 2006 Seattle murder conviction and smacked down one of the two King County Deputy Prosecutors handling the South Park murder trial, for using race to assail the credibility of witnesses in a 2006 case:
Finding that prosecutorial misconduct “fatally tainted” the conviction, a five-justice majority overturned the conviction against Kevin L. Monday Jr., who was accused in the April 2006 slaying of Francisco Green.
Monday was accused of shooting Green at point-blank range following a brief confrontation. The shooting was captured on a video camera a nearby street musician had mounted on his equipment.
Writing for the majority, Justice Tom Chambers excerpted a portion of Senior Deputy Prosecutor James Jude Konat’s closing argument in which he appears to suggest black witnesses cannot be expected to testify truthfully.
“The only thing that can explain to you the reasons why witness after witness after witness is called to this stand and flat out denies what cannot be denied on that video is the code. And the code is black folk don’t testify against black folk,” Konat told the jury at closing arguments.
Generalizations based on race are always untrue, highly offensive, and have no place in the courtroom. We agree with Justice Chambers’ observation that, “Theories and arguments based upon racial, ethnic and most other stereotypes are antithetical to and impermissable in a fair and impartial trial.The deputy prosecutor deeply regrets his remarks that the Supreme Court has found to constitute reversible error. He has been told, in no uncertain terms, that those arguments are unacceptable.During this appeal, the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office has not taken the position that the offensive comments were appropriate. To the contrary, we agreed that they were inappropriate. The issue argued before the court was the extent to which the prosecutor’s comments affected the jury’s verdict in light of all the evidence presented at trial. The court has answered that question and we will move forward with a retrial that will focus on the evidence.The Prosecuting Attorney’s Office will retry the case and we will assign a different deputy prosecutor to present that case in court.
The Prosecutor’s Office says Deputy Konat will stay on the Kalebu trial.