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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary | The Local Review
/ DEVELOPMENTS IN LOS ANGELES COUNTY

Legal Challenge of Grand Jury System Delayed a Week

March 28, 2000

LOS ANGELES — A legal challenge of the Los Angeles County Grand Jury system on behalf of a man indicted for murder was delayed for at least a week Monday.

Attorneys for Jaime Alejandro Mares are challenging their defendant's indictment by the grand jury on the ground that the jury selection process systematically "excludes the fair and proportional representation" of Latinos on grand juries.

There is not a single Latino among the 23 members of this year's grand jury even though Latinos constitute 40% of the county's population.

Arguments were expected in the case Monday but Superior Judge Thomas L. Wilhite Jr. delayed the hearing until next Tuesday to give attorneys more time to prepare.

Attorney Victor Sherman, who represents Mares, said after a brief hearing Monday that he may file a motion to disqualify the entire Los Angeles County Superior Court panel of judges on grounds that they have an interest in the system since they appoint grand jurors.

Mares was indicted by the grand jury last June on two counts of murder and other charges stemming from a 1998 police chase.

"We are attacking the way the Superior Court judges handle the grand jury," said Sherman, explaining the possible motion challenging the judges.

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