Perry Wooten wants conviction overturned

May 27, 2009 4:10:56 PM PDT
Former Precinct 7 Constable Perry Wooten was back in court continuing his fight to get a 2003 conviction overturned. He's serving time for abuse of office after a time sheet scam was uncovered in his constable's office. Defense attorneys have been presenting evidence, trying to prove Wooten did not get a fair trial six years ago. If they get the judge to agree, she could issue a recommendation to the court of appeals that it overturn his original conviction.

As former constable Perry Wooten sat in court, he made good on his six-year-old promise to fight his conviction for signing off on more than $100,000 in false time sheets.

Back in 2003, Wooten declared, "You're picking the wrong guy. There's racism, discrimination, sexism -- all kinds of 'isms'."

Today he's pursuing those allegations of racism. His defense attorney Josh Schaffer, so far the third lawyer to represent him in this case, is arguing his client did not get a fair trial because not one single African American sat on Wooten's jury.

The issue hits the district attorney's office two months after DA Pat Lykos publicly chastised two of her assistant DAs for removing every single black juror from the trial of a murder suspect. Those two ADAs were removed from trial work and docked pay.

In Wooten's case, however, attorneys did initially assemble a jury that included three African Americans. The original prosecutor, Donna Goode, testified that that jury was dismissed when her sister's sudden illness caused a postponement in trial. Defense attorneys say that reasoning was never entered into court records and that Wooten should get a new trial because of his original lawyer's incompetence.

As Wooten's family left the courtroom, they said they can only hope the judge agrees.

The hearing continues Thursday. Both the original defense attorneys and the original judge who tried the case are expected to testify.

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