FALLS CHURCH, Va. (AP) — A Black defendant’s right to a fair trial would be harmed if the jury heard the case in a courtroom lined with portraits of white jurists, a northern Virginia judge has ruled.
The upcoming trial of Terrance Shipp on charges of eluding police will be held in a courtroom that has no portraits on the wall, said Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge David Bernhard.
Bernhard noted that his usual courtroom has no portraits. But jury trials that were postponed during the coronavirus pandemics are now being held in larger courtrooms. The walls of those rooms are lined with portraits of retired judges who are overwhelmingly white, he said.
Public defenders raised the issue in a motion titled “Motion to Remove Portraiture Overwhelmingly Depicting White Jurists Hanging in Trial Courtroom.”