Wendell Griffen: Questions 'cultural competency' in Trayvon Martin case | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Wendell Griffen: Questions 'cultural competency' in Trayvon Martin case

Posted By on Thu, Aug 1, 2013 at 9:54 AM

wendellgriffen.jpg
Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen, who presides over criminal cases that frequently involve racial considerations in Pulaski County, has written an essay on "cultural competency" in the Trayvon Martin murder trial and posted it on his website.

What he means, among others, is this:

One wonders how, in 2013, a six-person jury was selected that included no African-Americans in Seminole County, Florida. One wonders how and why the prosecution team did not address the reality of racial profiling, racial prejudice, and racial stereotypes during jury selection in order to be able to intelligently decide whether to challenge prospective jurors for cause on account of racial prejudice, or to exercise peremptory challenges for prospective jurors considered unacceptable. One wonders whether the prosecution team included anyone skilled in cultural competency and inclusion.

Griffen said the prosecution apparently decided to treat the law as color-blind.

However, law is not color-blind. Law, as the great Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes famously said, is about experience. Culturally competent law practice requires that one understand societal realities and experiences and the legal implications they evoke. To do otherwise is to engage in wishful thinking at best. At worse, taking a "color-blind" approach to law in a legal dispute with cross-cultural issues amounts to cultural incompetence, however skilled the lawyer might otherwise be viewed.

Griffen concludes that justice wasn't done in the Martin case.

Trayvon Martin's death should have been investigated and prosecuted by lawyers who were culturally competent. The shameful truth is that it wasn't. The more painful truth is that this is the level of legal work communities of color, women, people who are gay, lesbian, trans-gender, and bi-sexual, immigrants, and other marginalized persons have come to recognize as business as usual from the professionals licensed by society to handle and decide disputes about justice.

I will hazard a guess that comments on the importance of understanding race in criminal trials — as advocated by an African-American judge — will someday be cause for comment, not likely positive, by a party in his court. Griffen, of course, is familiar with resistance to his robust exercise of free speech.

Tags: , , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Comments (38)

Showing 1-38 of 38

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-38 of 38

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Saturday's open line

    Got any thoughts? Put them here.
    • May 21, 2016
  • Is Arkansas in or out on Kobach voter data effort?

    The Washington Post has published a map that counts Arkansas as among states that will "partially comply" with a sweeping request for voter data by the so-called election integrity commission set up by Donald Trump in an effort to cast doubt on Hillary Clinton's 3 million-vote popular defeat of him in 2016.
    • Jul 2, 2017
  • Civil War over in Fort Smith; lawyer strikes his Rebel mascot battle tent

    KSFM reports that Joey McCutchen, the lawyer who's been trying to restart the Civil War in Fort Smith over the School Board's decision to drop the Rebel mascot and related trappingsfor Southside High School, is dropping his School Board takeover campaign.
    • May 27, 2016

Most Shared

  • Industrial hemp pilot program coming soon to Arkansas

    One of the booths at this week's Ark-La-Tex Medical Cannabis Expo was hosted by the Arkansas Hemp Association, a trade group founded to promote and expand non-intoxicating industrial hemp as an agricultural crop in the state. AHA Vice President Jeremy Fisher said the first licenses to grow experimental plots of hemp in the state should be issued by the Arkansas State Plant Board next spring.

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation