FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- For the first time in Fresno County Superior Court history, a defense attorney has filed a rare motion, arguing a death penalty qualification on a jury panel for an African American defendant will deprive them of equal protection.
Attorney David Mugridge's client, Leroy Johnson spent almost nine years in jail on murder charges.
Mugridge says studies show most African Americans are against the death penalty and he is worried those jurors will be disqualified based on their predisposition toward life rather than death.
He argues his client will not receive the right to a fair and equal sampling of all races.
"Theoretically as a defense attorney I'd love to have everybody on the jury be opposed to the death penalty, the people have the right to a fair and balanced jury just as much as the defendant does and I just want to make sure it ends up being fair and trial for both sides," said Mugridge.
Johnson's trial was supposed to start in January, but it could be postponed.
Mugridge also says this has only been done in the State of California once before.
Defense attorney files rare death penalty motion