The picturesque jury chamber in the Giles County courthouse in Tennessee featured a giant window with a soaring library, but it had another striking detail: a portrait of Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy, in a gold-colored frame, as well as other Confederate memorabilia.
A Tennessee appeals court unanimously ruled on Friday that a Black man convicted of aggravated assault and other charges by an all-white jury should get a new trial, saying that prosecutors failed to rebut a claim made by defense lawyers that the room where the jury deliberated was prejudicial to the man, Tim Gilbert.
The decision was issued amid a broader rethinking of the racist and Confederate symbols that have, for generations, dotted town squares, universities and courthouses across the United States. It also comes amid a greater awareness about racial bias seeping into the criminal justice system.
Mr. Gilbert, 56, who was arrested in 2018, and his lawyer argued that having both the grand jury and the trial jury deliberate in the “inherently prejudicial” room — which had been named after the United Daughters of the Confederacy — violated his right to a fair trial, an impartial jury, due process and equal protection, according to court documents.
I’m actually a bit surprised that this was a unanimous decision. It’s a good sign. I am sure Tennessee Republicans will do all they can to make sure it doesn’t happen again.