The Clarion-Ledger, 3/16/9

Federal prosecutors filed a motion today arguing Mayor Frank Melton should not be allowed to pick a jury from an area with a larger African-American population.

“It is well-established that defendants are not entitled to a jury of any particular racial composition, as long as the jury is fairly selected,” the motion states.

Last week, U.S. District Judge Dan Jordan ordered that the jury for the retrial of Melton and his former bodyguard Michael Recio would be drawn from the six-county district on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Prosecutors had argued those counties were least exposed to media coverage of the first federal trial, which ended last month in a mistrial when jurors were unable to reach a verdict.

John Reeves, Melton’s defense attorney, asked Jordan to reconsider that ruling on grounds the coastal counties had the smallest percentage of potential African-American jurors. Instead, Reeves said the jury should be drawn from the entire southern judicial district or from a more heavily African-American area of the district, such as an eight-county area in southeast Mississippi.