Black Lawyers Association of Cincinnati hosting community forums on Ray Tensing's retrial

Posted at 5:56 AM, May 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-03 06:29:27-04

CINCINNATI -- Former University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing appears in court Wednesday just weeks before the start of his second murder trial for the death of motorist Samuel DuBose in July 2015. 

His retrial begins May 25 after his first trial ended with a hung jury in November 2016. 

The general public doesn't spend its days in a courtroom, meaning trial proceedings can be foreign to them. That's why the Black Lawyers Association of Cincinnati (BLAC) is hosting three community forums discussing Tensing's retrial starting Wednesday night. 

"(We get) a lot of questions just on where do juries come from, where do they get the names from, who all is included and we're going to do our best to try to educate the public on that," said Rodney Harris, director of Hamilton County's Public Defender Office. "When you look across the nation in general, these things continue to happen. I think the interest is there. I think people want resolution, just like with anything. When something's been pumped up as much as it is, I think people want to see it get resolved so we can move on with our lives."

Most potential jurors admit they know at least something about Tensing's case, but Harris said that doesn't disqualify them from serving in the jury. A change of venue is only considered if they can't seat a fair and impartial jury.

This is the second time BLAC is hosting community forums to educate the public on the trial process and government policy affecting our legal system. All four panel members who participated in the first three community forums before Tensing's original trial will return, including Harris, city council member Yvette Simpson, Hamilton County Municipal Court Judge Fanon A. Rucker and BLAC President Doneytta Bailey.

The BLAC Community Forums will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. once a week prior to the beginning of Tensing’s retrial. The community forums will occur on:

Wednesday, May 3
New Prospect Baptist Church
1580 Summit Road

Wednesday, May 10
Allen Temple AME Church
7030 Reading Road

Tuesday, May 16
First Unitarian Church
536 Linton St.

“It is Important that the community learn from respected lawyers and judges on what to expect at each stage of the trial, so there is no confusion and no surprises. We can’t advocate what we don’t understand. Knowledge is power,” Simpson said in a news release.

The panel members will discuss with the public the jury selection process, legal standards for manslaughter and murder charges and self-defense in a police shooting and the role of a judge and jury. The public will also learn about the effects of voting and voter registration on the judicial process and turning advocacy into action when appealing to lawmakers for meaningful change in government policy.

Read's complete coverage of the Ray Tensing trial here.