Dozens of death penalty cases under review for racial bias in jury selection

Courtroom One gavel in an undated photo for DA backgound. (Joe Gratz via Bay City News)

Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price said Monday her office is reviewing dozens of death penalty cases over possible prosecutorial misconduct.

At a press conference in front of a federal courthouse in San Francisco, Price said she’s investigating all 35 of the county’s existing death penalty cases for possible evidence that Black and Jewish people were excluded from juries because of their race.

“The Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to a trial by an impartial jury of one’s peers,” Price said. “Any practice by prosecutors to eliminate potential jurors because of their race betrays that core pillar of the criminal justice system.”

Price said her office was ordered to look into the cases by U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria after potential wrongdoing was found during the resentencing settlement of Ernest Dykes. Dykes was convicted in 1993 of the attempted murder of Bernice Clark and the murder of her 9-year-old grandson Lance Clark during an attempted robbery and sentenced to death in 1995, according to Price’s office.

The cases go back as far as 1977 and it’s unclear how long the review process will take or how many prosecutors might have blocked jurors because of their race.

“It will take a long time,” Price said. “We don’t know how long. Each case we will have to review individually.”

Some of the existing evidence includes hand-written notes about specific people who were left off juries that identify them as Black or Jewish, she said.

“Additionally, we have the transcripts of some of the ways in which the jurors were questioned,” Price said. “It’s not limited to one or two prosecutors. It’s a variety of prosecutors.”

Price said people who think they might have been impacted by these cases can contact the county’s Victim-Witness Advocates at (510) 208-9555 or

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