Supporters demand ‘Justice for Sam Smith!’
Dec. 15 — Transgender activists, family members and supporters came out to show support for Sam Smith in his bid for freedom at a hearing today at Moakley Courthouse in Boston. Smith, a Black prisoner, has been imprisoned by the injustice system for more than 25 years, ever since he was a youth.
Smith is fighting for the release of auditory tapes revealing prosecutor James Coffey’s use of bigoted, anti-trans and white supremacist language during his 2001 trial to invalidate and eliminate potential jurors who might have been sympathetic to Smith. The judge cut Coffey off during a rant, resulting in Coffey using a peremptory challenge to eliminate a potential juror.
Prosecutors have stated that the tapes are “missing.” Smith is under no illusion that the tapes will be “found,” especially since Coffey has become a judge himself. But refusal to turn over the tapes could lead to a retrial and/or freedom for Smith.
Smith’s lawyers argue that to deny someone a seat on a jury for being transgender violates the Constitution’s 14th Amendment, which says the State shall not “deny any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” Also, Article 12 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights prevents the use of a peremptory challenge to remove a juror because of their affiliation with “particular defined groupings in the community.”
Supporters will continue to call for “Justice for Sam Smith!” and “Unite to fight racism and anti-LGBTQ bigotry!” To demand a retrial for Sam Smith, call Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey’s office at 617-727-2200.