Race appeal denied in case

Posted: Monday, March 09, 2009

FAIRBANKS - The state Court of Appeals has affirmed the conviction of a man who claimed that an apparent absence of Alaska Natives from his jury pool violated his constitutional right to a fair trial.

David Cassou also claimed that jury pools picked from lists of Alaska Permanent Fund dividend applicants may not contain a proportionate number of Alaska Natives.

A jury in 2006 convicted Cassou, 40, an Alaska Native, of felony driving under the influence of alcohol.

It was the Fairbanks man's third felony DUI conviction. He was fined $10,000 and sentenced to three years in prison. His driver's license was revoked for life.

In his appeal, Cassou said no one had studied the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend list to gauge whether it contains a proportionate number of Alaska Natives. The state uses the list to call people to jury duty.

The Court of Appeals rejected the argument, saying the dividend provides a strong motive for Alaska residents to apply, making the list a fair cross-section of the state population.

Cassou also argued that no one called for jury duty in his case appeared to be Alaska Native. The court rejected the claim, saying Cassou offered no proof.

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