On Thursday, November 9, former prosecutor Anthony Germano defended a charge of racial bias in the case of a 2014 child rape trial. Germano was accused of dismissing a potential juror for the case because she was a black woman.
The accusation of racial bias came from Craig Davis, the rapist convicted in the aforementioned case. Davis challenged Germano on appeal after which an appellate court from Rochester began an investigation.
The Rochester appellate court ruled the Onondaga County District Attorney’s Office must be able to show a race-neutral reason for the disqualification for the juror. According to Syracuse.com, Germano’s testimony came down to a series of side notes he’d jotted down on a jury selection sheet in 2014 for the child rape case. The notes included the shorthand “what type” and “talk.”
Germano, who now works in a private practice, said November 9 that he was unsure of what the notes were supposed to mean. The case took place over three years ago.
“There was something I did not particularly like,” Germano said. He added that whatever it was he hadn’t liked about the juror, it must have been a race-neutral reason.
During his testimony, Germano said the notes were due to something he’d seen on the dismissed juror’s questionnaire. The questionnaire is something all jurors must fill out prior to selection to reduce the risk of bias during the trial. Germano said he had a question about one of the dismissed juror’s answers on the questionnaire.
However, before Germano could ask the question to the juror, Judge Anthony Aloi had informed him the time to question the jurors had ended. Unable to ask the question he needed, Germano said, he dismissed the juror from consideration based on peremptory challenge.
At the time of the dismissal, defense attorney Paul Carey had questioned the motives of Germano’s removal of the juror. However, Germano had informed Aloi he had a race-neutral reason for the dismissal. Aloi agreed to Germano’s decision.
During the November 9 hearing, Germano indicated multiple questions on the juror questionnaire that may have warranted his side notes. These questions included: “did you ever sit on a jury before? Have you or someone you know ever been convicted of a crime, been a victim of a crime or sued?” However, the original dismissed juror’s questionnaire hadn’t been kept and therefore her answers were unavailable.
When pressed by lawyer John Gilsenan about Germano’s inability to say the question he wanted more information about, Germano replied he couldn’t remember the question. Senior Assistant District Attorney Jeremy Cali indicated the questionnaire had no bearing on race.
Davis remains in prison where he is still convicted of child rape. Class A misdemeanors such as prostitution and solicitation are punishable by up to one year in prison. However, child rape is a felony. Davis has served only three years of a seven-year sentence. The hearing regarding Germano’s potential racial bias on the case was adjourned and will continue on November 21.