Last week the Alaskan Court of Appeals heard an interesting argument brought by the attorney representing Teddy Kyle Smith, 50, who was convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to 99 years. According to Kelly Taylor, who represents Smith, her client was denied his right to a jury of his peers because he was tried in Kotzebue, Alaska which happens to be the closest courthouse to Kiana, Alaska were the crime took place. Kotzebue is approximately 60 miles from Kiana and in Alaska jurors are only assigned to criminal trials from communities within 50 miles were the trial is held. The appellant had moved to expand the jury pool but the trial judge denied his request.
In response to the appellant, the prosecution argued that his conviction should stand. Alaska state attorney Ann Black stated that jurors from Kotzebue are not that different from those who reside in villages like Kiana. Mrs. Black further argued that “[t]he Supreme Court recognized mile radiuses need to be drawn. It’s going to happen...[a]nd so long as those lines are drawn in a manner that does not deny a defendant a fair cross-section of the community on his jury venire, then they’re constitutionally sound.”
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