The Trial of "Indian Joe": Race and Justice in the Nineteenth-Century West

By Clare V. McKanna Jr. | Go to book overview

3

The Judge and Jury

In nineteenth-century San Diego County, forming a jury usually began with the sheriff's supplying a roster of about fifty names of men who were of voting age and whose names had been selected from the San Diego County Great Register Books, a list of all eligible voters. The sheriff's list was commonly called a venire, and the men on it were ordered to appear at the courthouse and to be ready to serve on a jury if they were chosen. Normally the sheriff would bring in these prospective jurors for the voir dire examination. At this stage both the prosecutor and the defense counsel were allowed to ask prospective jurors questions to determine if they knew the defendant, to ascertain whether they had made up their minds about his guilt or innocence, to inquire whether they or family members had previously been victims of similar crimes, and to assess whether prejudice existed. During this process both sides could reject prospective jurors who might diminish their chances of winning the case.

In the American legal system there has always been the illusion that the jury is a cross-section of society, or at least an impartial group of the defendant's peers. It is quite clear, however, that the men selected for the José Gabriel murder trial were not a jury of his peers. Such a jury did not exist

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The Trial of "Indian Joe": Race and Justice in the Nineteenth-Century West
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The Trial of “indian Joe” - Race and Justice in the Nineteenth-Century West *
  • Contents *
  • Illustrations *
  • Preface *
  • Acknowledgments *
  • Prologue - Murder on Otay Mesa *
  • 1 - The Prosecution *
  • 2 - The Defense *
  • 3 - The Judge and Jury *
  • 4 - The Crime Scene *
  • 5 - The Illusion of “indian Joe” *
  • 6 - The Scales of Justice *
  • Epilogue - Gabriel'sfate *
  • Appendix - Trial Exhibits *
  • Notes *
  • Selected Bibliography *
  • Index *
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