NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A Nashville judge says a man who has long been on Tennessee’s death row will get a new hearing.
Sixty-five-year-old Abu-Ali Abdur’Rahman has been on death row since 1987, when he was convicted of first-degree murder and other counts in the fatal stabbing of Patrick Daniels and attack on Norma Jean Norman, who survived, according to reports from the Tennessean (http://tnne.ws/2eaC2h2). Abdur’Rahman has argued that prosecutors discriminated against African-Americans during jury selection but has been unsuccessful challenging his convictions.
However, a new order from Nashville Criminal Court Judge Monte Watkins will give Abdur’Rahman’s lawyer a chance to argue that again.
Watkins wrote that the U.S. Supreme Court case Foster v. Chatman potentially created new precedent that warrants an evidentiary hearing for Abdur’Rahman. In the Foster v. Chatman case, justices found that prosecutors struck all four African-American potential jurors based solely on their race.
The U.S. Supreme Court has held for 30 years that lawyers cannot excuse potential jurors solely based on race.
Abdur’Rahman’s lawyer, Brad MacLean, declined to comment on the judge’s order. However, he said implicit bias is a problem that leads to arbitrary implementation of the death penalty.
“That racial bias can affect different phases of the case,” MacLean said. “It can affect the decision whether to seek the death penalty, it can affect how jury selection is conducted, it can affect the attitudes of jurors, whether they’re aware of it or not.”
Abdur’Rahman’s hearing hasn’t been scheduled.
Information from: The Tennessean, http://www.tennessean.com