A Twin Cities activist has filed a formal complaint against one of Jeronimo Yanez's attorneys in his trial for the fatal shooting of Philando Castile, alleging that he engaged in "ethnic profiling, harassment and abrasive conduct" toward an 18-year-old Ethiopian potential juror.
In the complaint filed against Earl Gray with the Minnesota Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility, Michelle Gross of Communities United Against Police Brutality alleges that Gray badgered the potential juror, a female college student who was ultimately one of two people of color selected to serve on the jury during trial. Yanez was ultimately acquitted.
Gross, who said she attended the entire trial, said Gray profiled the woman by suggesting that she didn't understand the criminal justice system.
The exchange came during the third day of jury selection, when Gray tried to remove student, who immigrated to the United States when she was 10, from the jury pool. Gray asked the woman if she was a citizen, and then asked her to describe the American criminal justice system and to define felony, misdemeanor, credibility and impeachment.
Dissatisfied with her answers, Gray moved for Ramsey County District Judge William Leary to excuse her, telling the court (after she had been led out of the room) that she was "simply not competent" and that any other 18-year-old could "quite easily" answer his questions.
Assistant Ramsey County Attorney Richard Dusterhoft pushed back, noting that Gray didn't ask any other potential jurors to define the legal terms. (Leary did ask many about their feelings regarding the criminal justice system.)
"She seems to be an intelligent young woman," Leary said before denying Gray's request.
Gross' complaint cites a violation of a professional conduct rule prohibiting actions that "have no substantial purpose other than to embarrass, delay or burden a third person."
"I understand the need for lawyers to provide zealous representation of their clients but Mr. Gray's conduct toward a very earnest potential juror simply because of her ethnicity was beyond the pale," Gross said in a statement.
Gray did not immediately respond to a request for comment.