Jury challenge in APS cheating trial rejected

Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter today denied a motion challenging the pool of prospective jurors for the Atlanta Public Schools test-cheating trial.

That means jury selection in the trial of 12 former APS employees will continue this week.

Defense attorney Bob Rubin filed a motion last month saying a hearing is needed to find out why African-Americans are underrepresented among jurors summoned for the trial.

About 35 percent of the jurors called for the case are African-American, compared to about 46 percent of all potential Fulton County jurors. Defense expert Jeffrey Martin said that difference is too large to be chalked up to chance.

“If the jury list was an APS teacher, it would be indicted,” Rubin said, in reference to the statistics used in identifying Atlanta Public Schools classrooms where alleged cheating took place.

Martin testified today that a Fulton County vendor made tens of thousands of changes to the list of people called for jury duty, outside the bounds of jury-selection rules. However, the defense is not claiming that African-American jurors were singled out for exclusion.

Prosecutors objected to the challenge, questioning the timeliness of the motion and data cited by the defense and citing the lack of intentional discrimination.

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