362 LOUISIANA LAW REVIEW [Vol. 72
nine qualified prospective black jurors.2 Only one person of color
ultimately sat on the jury, despite the fact that African-American
residents constituted approximately 25% of the population in the
Parish.3 Four years earlier, attorneys from our office urged the
Louisiana Supreme Court to reverse another case out of Jefferson
Parish where the State had struck every one of the five qualified
prospective black jurors. The prosecutor in that case told reporters
that it was his “O.J. [Simpson] case” and later pleaded with jurors
not to let Allen Snyder get away with it like O.J. did.4
While briefing and arguing Dressner, we recognized that the
distance between the post-Reconstruction legacy of racism in
Louisiana and the present day administration of justice—much like
the distance between the quote from the Supreme Court’s opinion
in Williams v. Mississippi and the statement from Reed Walters—
is not as far as one may wish to believe.5 The prosecutor at Mr.
Dressner’s trial had gone so far as to suggest that he struck
African-American prospective jurors because they espoused views
that were friendly to the State. Nevertheless, the Louisiana
Supreme Court denied the claims of prosecutorial race
2. See Unpublished Appendix at *8 n.8, State v. Dressner, 45 So. 3d 127
(La. 2010) (No. 08-KA-1366) (on file with authors).
3. See U.S. CENSUS BUREAU, State & County QuickFacts: Jefferson
Parish, LA, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/22/22051.html (last visited
Oct. 13, 2011); see also RICHARD BOURKE, JOE HINGSTON & JOEL DEVINE, LA.
CRISIS ASSISTANCE CTR., BLACK STRIKES: A STUDY OF THE RACIALLY
DISPARATE USE OF PEREMPTORY CHALLENGES BY THE JEFFERSO N PAR ISH
DISTRIC T ATTORNEY’S OFFICE (2003), available at http://www.blackstrikes.
4. See State v. Snyder, 942 So. 2d 484, 498–99 (La. 2006), rev’d, Snyder
v. Louisiana, 552 U.S. 472 (2008). The Louisiana Supreme Court upheld Mr.
Snyder’s conviction and rejected the claim of racial discrimination, but in
Snyder v. Louisiana, a 7–2 opinion authored by Justice Alito, the Supreme Court
of the United States reversed. Snyder v. Louisiana, 552 U.S. 472 (2008).
5. Indeed, in the atrium of the Louisiana Supreme Court, a portrait of
Ernest Benjamin Kruttschnitt prominently hangs directly to the left of the main
entrance. E.B. Kruttschnitt was the legal architect of a system that was designed
to ensure the “supremacy” of the Anglo-Saxon race through terms that would
avoid the scrutiny of “Massachusetts” judges. OFFICIAL JOURNAL OF THE
PROCEEDINGS OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENT ION OF THE STATE OF
LOUISIANA: HELD IN NEW ORLEANS, TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 1898, at 381
(1898) [hereinafter LOUISIANA CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION JOURNAL]. In
1898, more than 25 years after the Reconstruction Amendments provided
African-American citizens with the right to participate in their government,
Louisiana held its second Constitutional Convention. Serving as its President,
Kruttschnitt called into order what he deemed to be “little more than a family
meeting of the Democratic party of the State of Louisiana.” Id. at 8–9. In the
end, he vowed to “protect the purity of the ballot box and to perpetuate the
supremacy of the Anglo -Saxon race in Louisiana.” Id. at 381.