There were no Latinos on Gilberto Mora's jury and that is enough to prove racial bias, said state appellate court justices. For that reason, the judges last week threw out Mora's 1983 murder conviction.
Mora was convicted of second-degree murder in the Sept. 23, 1982, shooting death of Juan Medrano. The two had apparently argued during a poker game at Medrano's La Habra home before the shooting.
At Mora's trial, Deputy Dist. Atty. Patricia Manoukian challenged all five Latinos on jury panels for the trial. When defense attorney Gerald Garlow accused her of racial motivation, Manoukian gave a variety of reasons, including that one was too young, another was unemployed and another lacked decision-making experience.
But the appellate court found her reasons "highly suspect." Justice Thomas Crosby, who wrote the court's opinion, said, "We conclude she failed to establish that any of the five Latinos was rejected for a reason other than an impermissible group bias against Latinos."