Just Mercy

by Bryan Stevenson

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Why is the trial's relocation in chapter 3 of Just Mercy significant?

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Bryan Stevenson’s memoir Just Mercy contains the true stories of some of Stevenson’s cases as a legal advocate. While he does tell the stories of many different cases, the storyline mainly centers on the case of Walter McMillian, a young African American man who was charged with murder and sentenced to death in Alabama in the 1980s.

In chapter three, Walter’s lawyers file a motion to have the case moved to another county in order to avoid possible bias within the jury; they believe that if the case is held in Monroeville, Walter will not have a fair trial. Surprisingly, both the judge and the prosecution, Ted Pearson, agree to move the trial; however, when the case does get moved, the prosecution arranges to move the trial over to Baldwin County, a nearby county that is almost entirely white. As a result of this move, instead of getting a local jury, Walter ends up having an entirely white jury. This is significant because though there are laws in place to protect accused citizens from racist jury tampering, racist juries can still be created legal means. Stevenson also asserts that the judge and prosecution worked together, knowing they’d have more success with an all-white jury.

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