Rutherford County District Attorney’s Assistant Charged With Using ‘Openly Racist Stereotype’ | News


Complaints filed against a Rutherford County Deputy District Attorney by four Davidson County prosecutors accuse him of saying, “Blacks hate Mexicans,” in a 2015 session on how to choose juries.

The complaints, obtained by the News4 I-Team, accuse Rutherford County Assistant District Attorney John Zimmerman of making the comment and another statement with “racial implications.”

Davidson County District Attorney Glenn Funk wrote in his complaint that he overheard Zimmerman say that “all black people hate Mexicans” and that the presentation encouraged unethical and illegal conduct.

Davidson County deputy prosecutors Jenny Charles, Roger Moore and Janice Norman all emailed complaints saying they had heard the comment as well.

“At best, it was a reckless statement that generalized an entire race of people. At worst, it was an openly racist stereotype, ”Charles wrote.

According to the complaints, the panel Zimmer spoke on took place at the district attorney general’s conference on October 22, 2015.

The complaints refer to a legal mandate that jurors should not be chosen on the basis of their race.

The complaints were emailed privately but were obtained by the News4 I-Team.

Although Zimmerman declined to answer questions on camera, he said over the phone that he did not recall making that specific comment.

“If I said those words, it was a very poor choice of words. It’s not a wise thing to say, ”Zimmerman said.

“Do you believe that (stereotype?)” Asked the News4 I-Team.

“No, I don’t think all blacks hate Mexicans,” Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman said his comments referred to an earlier trial in which he was the prosecutor and six Mexican defendants were on trial on drug charges.

Zimmerman said lawyers for the defendants hit all white jurors, leaving an all-black jury.

Zimmerman said he didn’t hit any jurors and wanted to learn a lesson from that for prosecutors at the conference.

“Here is an example where I believe defense lawyers misunderstood the demographics and the relationship between African Americans and Hispanics when it comes to sympathies. They felt that an all-black jury would naturally be sympathetic to their clients, ”Zimmerman said.

Rutherford County NAACP President Katie Wilson said that although the complaints were filed in 2015, it is concerning as Zimmerman has been selecting juries since then.

“Do you see this as racist? The I-Team asked.

“Oh yeah. By all means,” Wilson said.

Wilson also said he was confused by the stereotype as she has Mexican parents in her family and had never heard of the mindset.

In the complaints, Funk also writes that the first inappropriate comment he heard from Zimmerman was as an assistant district attorney in Nashville, he would hit jurors with an area code 37215 if a case involved people from ” downtown”.

Funk wrote that he heard Zimmerman say, “In Nashville the rich don’t care what happens in East Nashville.

Zimmerman said he didn’t make the remark, but was quoting what another prosecutor once said.

While Jerry Estes, executive director of the Conference of Attorneys General, did not return repeated phone calls asking for an explanation of how the complaints were investigated, a request for open cases has revealed a letter sent to Funk.

The letter, signed by District Attorney Kim Helper, who was one of three people to whom the complaints were sent, read: “While you and your assistants are firm in your opinion on General Zimmerman’s remarks, the other people present at the session did not hear the same language. and / or interpret their comments in the same way.

Zimmerman’s boss, Rutherford County District Attorney Jennings Jones, made a statement to the News4 I-Team.

“This event took place well over three years ago and there appears to be substantial differences of opinion as to what really happened,” Jones wrote, “Mr. Zimmerman understands the wording that he used was an extremely bad word choice… I have never seen Mr. Zimmerman act in a racist manner and I have made sure he understands that this office will not tolerate such action. “

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