Memo to NAACP: Trial Advocacy Matters

Darnell Moore was charged with murder. He was black. Almost every potential juror was white. We made an issue of it. After his conviction, the Courts must now decide whether he was deprived of a representative jury.


"NORWICH — A Norwich murder case will help decide the legal issue of whether the state should do more to make sure a jury reflects a community’s racial composition.

The state Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Jan. 18 in the case of State v. Darnell Moore.

Moore, who is African-American, is appealing his murder conviction on the grounds that too few African-Americans from New London County were given a chance to serve on his jury.

The 29-year-old Moore is serving a 53-year prison sentence for gunning down 31-year-old Nambi Smart shortly before 11 p.m. the night of Aug. 26, 2010, outside Smart’s home on Lake Street in Norwich.

According to testimony at Moore’s murder trial in 2012, Smart got into an argument with Moore earlier in the evening over liquor and it resulted in Smart ripping Moore’s T-shirt. After Smart and Moore were separated, Moore pointed his finger at Smart like a gun and said, “I got something for you later.”

Moore then called Samuel Gomez, of Montville, and asked him to bring him a gun, which Gomez did, then Moore drove down Lake Street to see if Smart was outside. He then walked with the .45 caliber pistol from Spaulding Street to Lake Street, and returned a short time later, telling Gomez he shot Moore.

Other witnesses identified Moore as walking up to where Smart was sitting outside his home, although no one said they saw Moore actually pull the trigger. Police also never found the murder weapon, which testimony indicated was dropped at the scene and taken away by someone else.

During jury selection for Moore’s trial, his defense lawyer, Norman Pattis, objected that out of 120 potential jurors questioned, all of them were white except for three African-American women and one man who appeared to be African-American but said he was Hispanic.

A hearing was held on Pattis’ request to pick a new jury, and the defense attorney questioned several state officials responsible for gathering the data — such as of licensed drivers, voters, those collecting unemployment benefits and filing state income taxes — used in making the lists of people to call to jury duty.

Every one of the officials testified they don’t ask and don’t know the races of the people on their lists. In addition, by law, a questionnaire filled out by potential jurors makes a question on race optional to answer.

Judge Barbara Jongbloed, who presided over the trial, ruled that that lack of racial data made it impossible to know whether African-Americans were being unfairly kept off juror lists and that the trial could go ahead.

Pattis wanted to make his challenge to the jury selection based on 2010 census data, which said African-Americans were 11 percent of Connecticut’s population and 6.5 percent of New London County’s.

But a November 2016 ruling by the state Appellate Court found that census data shouldn’t be used because it gives only the racial breakdown of all residents, not those who are eligible to serve on juries.

“In light of the dearth of evidence with respect to the relevant factors at issue in the present claim, we conclude that the defendant has not demonstrated that the court erroneously rejected his fair cross-section argument,” the ruling said.

Now Moore’s written appeal to the state Supreme Court not only asks that he get a new trial with a more racially balanced jury, it asks the high court to order all the state’s courts to collect racial and ethnic data from potential jurors in every trial.

“The issue of diversity and fairness in the jury system at the core of our administration of criminal justice, and the contemporaneous recognition and concern with the evils of racial discrimination, however unintentional, is one of the utmost seriousness for both the integrity of a particular trial and the perceived fairness of the judicial system as a whole,” Moore’s attorney, Kenneth Rosenthal, argued in his appeal.

The Supreme Court will issue its decision in several months or longer."



Racist or Misanthrope? You Make The Call

The NAACP claims I posted a racist image and has called me out for it. The accusation has made the news. Now bloggers have weighed it. So am I a racist?

I guess I am if you think that being a racist means not recognizing the claims of people of color for special treatment on account of their unique history in the United States.

I guess I am also a misogynist if you think that means I don’t recognize the claims of women for special treatment based on their unique history. But the broader truth is that I am a misanthrope.

I don’t trust folks of all races, genders, or gender identities. I don’t trust them when they claim that my status as white male means I possess a “privilege.” These claims are usually cast as calls for distributive justice. “Give me more,” the claimants say, because I or my ancestors have had less. I am certainly not a white supremacist. I firmly believed all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

If you are reading this, you are probably aware that the NAACP “condemned” me, according to the headlines in newspapers, for posting a “racist” image on Facebook. The image was of three Coors beer cans wearing hoods gathered around a brown beer bottle in a noose. Ku Klux Coors, I called it.

Racism, said the Klan.

Facebook censored the material, a factor that led me to quit Facebook.

Why would I post such a thing? I think identity politics is a cancer. I am a white heterosexual male. I don’t owe people of color, women, transgenders or others a thing on account of my status. I’ll spare no effort to poke at those who think I do. That’s because I am a misanthrope, and believe there is little more dangerous than a self-righteous mob.

So why Ku Klux Coors? Because when the living claim that because “their” history reflects lynchings decades and generations ago the living are entitled to some special solicitude, I cry “bullshit.”

History is littered with the injuries humankind have done to one another. Claims of special status today because of yesteryear’s injustice is simply a way of playing spin the bottle with history.

I was wondered what kind of reception I’d receive in courts after the NAACP attack on me. Some folks avoided me. But a surprising number of folks approached me to thank me for calling out unctuous race pandering. “Things are getting out of hand,” one white man told me. I won’t mention what sort of uniform he wore. He was worried that if I identified him, he’d suffer repercussions. I had the same sort of conversation with a judge, with a radio personality and with others.

In the PC wars waging around us today folks are suddenly afraid of their shadows -- and the color of their skin. God forbid we offend a woman by not believing her. God forbid we don’t show solicitude to the descendant of slaves. God forbid that we don’t celebrate diversity for diversity’s sake. Suddenly, it’s suspect to be a white male.

Forgive if I decline to cower.

Sadly, I’ve seen young millennials express mockery over white male victimhood. Slowly, and by imperceptible degree, its becoming the new normal to regard white males as the possessors of privilege they must be compelled to yield. I call bullshit.

Martin Luther King transfixed a nation by speaking of a nation in which people were judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin. Our new identity politicians are taking the cowards way out. Blame the white dude – we’ve kept women down, oppressed people of color, and so forth. Is that your hand in my pocket?

Several years ago, I spoke at a public forum. After I spoke, a black politician told the largely African-American audience that “white people need to shut up and listen.” I was stunned. Had a white man said that to people of color it would cause a scandal. When the politico spoke, however, he appealed to a dawning sense of racial entitlement. I am not buying it.

I represent people of color, even though I don’t trust black race panderers. I represent Moslems, even though I am an Islamophobe and believe that the Islam and Western liberalism don’t mix. I represent women, even though I don’t believe them just because of their gender.

No one is entitled to solicitude on account of their identity. That’s a subtle form of idolatry, of the pot saying to the potter, why maketh me so?

I am a misanthrope afraid of self-righteous mobs. The mobs that scare me most now are the mobs of identity politicians. Politics is now pathos, with a new victim crowned as often as possible. Does that make me a racist? If you insist.

But  if that is your claim, you are little more than a race-, gender-, diversity-panderer. I’ll mock your pretensions every time.

And that, my friends, is why I though Ku Klux Coors was well-worth posting, even if I won't be posting it, or anything else, on Facebook.


About Norm Pattis

Norm Pattis is a Connecticut based trial lawyer focused on high stakes criminal cases and civil right violations. He is a veteran of more than 100 jury trials, many resulting in acquittals for people charged with serious crimes, multi-million dollar civil rights and discrimination verdicts, and scores of cases favorably settled.

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I believe that the state is a necessary fiction and that failing to combat it is the first step toward tyranny.
– Norm Pattis


Nothing in this blog should be considered legal advice about your case. You need a lawyer who understands the context of your life and situation. What are offered here are merely suggested lines of inquiry you may explore with your lawyer.

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