Federal judge tosses indictment against Bronx shooting suspect because grand jury pool in upstate New York was ‘not diverse enough’
- US Southern District Judge Analisa Torres on Monday tossed a federal indictment against convicted felon William ‘Ill Will’ Scott
- Torres cites a lack of racial diversity in the grand jury pool in White Plains, New York, where Scott’s case had been moved during pandemic
- Jury-eligible population in White Plains is 12.45 per cent black and 14.12 per cent Latino, compared with 21 and 28 percent, respectively, in Manhattan
- Scott argued his right to a representative jury under the Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the US Constitution had been violated
- Federal prosecutors blamed the pandemic for causing suspension of grand juries across the country
- Manhattan grand jury indicted Scott on the ammunition possession charge on the day of Torres’ ruling
US Southern District Judge Analisa Torres on Monday tossed a federal indictment against convicted felon William ‘Ill Will’ Scott, citing a lack of racial diversity in the White Plains, New York, grand jury pool
A federal judge in New York City has dismissed an indictment against a Bronx shooting suspect, citing a lack of racial diversity in the White Plains grand jury pool.
The ruling by District Judge Analisa Torres is said to be the first of its kind since city cases were moved to Westchester County during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In her 36-page opinion issued on Monday and obtained by DailyMail.com, Torres stated that she was throwing out the indictment against defendant William Scott on the ground that it violated his right to a representative jury under the Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the US Constitution.
Scott, who goes by the nickname ‘Ill Will,’ was indicted by the White Plains grand jury last June on a charge of being a convicted felon in possession of ammunition in connection with a shooting in the Bronx.
Scott had argued through his attorney that his constitutional rights had been violated because ‘his grand jury did not represent a fair cross section of the community.’
In the Manhattan Division, the jury-eligible population includes just under 21 per cent black people, and slightly over 28 per cent of Latinos.
In the White Plains Division, the jury-eligible population is only 12.45 per cent black and 14.12 per cent Latino.
According to the latest US Census data, White Plains has a population of more than 58,000 people, of whom 60 per cent are white, 12 per cent are black and 32 per cent are Hispanic or Latino.
‘Defendant has produced clear statistical evidence of underrepresentation of Black and Latinx individuals in the pool from which his grand jury was drawn, and a jury selection process that was susceptible to abuse,’ Torres wrote.
Scott had allegedly committed the crime of ammunition possession in The Bronx, but his case had been moved to the suburb of White Plains, where the jury-eligible population is only 12.45 per cent black and 14.12 per cent Latino
‘The Government has failed to meet its burden by coming forward with evidence rebutting the presumption that such underrepresentation was the result of purposeful discrimination. Therefore, Defendant has established a violation of his Fifth Amendment right to a race-neutral jury selection process.’
Prosecutors from the Southern District of New York explained in a letter to the court that they had Scott indicted in White Plains instead of Manhattan ‘amidst a global pandemic that suspended grand juries across the country.’
They also noted that Scott ‘posed a sufficiently serious risk to public safety that it was untenable to delay his prosecution until grand juries were more readily available.’
Judge Torres dismissed the indictment without prejudice, leaving the door open for prosecutors to refile it, which they did on the same day before a Manhattan grand jury.
A graduate of Harvard College and Columbia University School of Law, Torres was appointed to US District Court for the Southern District of New York by President Barack Obama in 2013.
Federal judge tosses indictment over lack of diversity in upstate New York grand jury pool