A top Texas prosecutor was fired Wednesday after he told a juror that her membership in the NAACP is the same as belonging to a white supremacy group.
Travis County felony prosecutor Steve Brand told a judge that he was removing the juror “not because of race” but because of her ties to the NAACP.
“It’s because in part she appeared to be an activist, and that’s what we don’t want,” he said. “Just as if she was white, we wouldn’t want a white activist or a white supremacist.”
A judge ruled that the woman’s removal was solely based on race. State District Judge Julie Kocurek later ordered a whole new jury be seated for the case.
Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg fired Brand because she told KVUE that she was offended by his remarks.
“I told Steve Brand that his statements did not reflect my opinions or my values or those of our organization, and that he could no longer work at the Travis County District Attorney’s office,” Lehmberg said.
Brand’s attorney, Tom Nesbitt, called her reaction “bizarre" and retaliatory.
“Steve Brand is a dedicated, highly regarded, veteran prosecutor with a stellar record at the courthouse. Not once has he been accused of racially insensitive or intolerant conduct other than by Ms. Lehmberg’s recent accusation,” Nesbitt said in a statement.
“His termination was an unjust, and frankly bizarre act by the District Attorney,” he added. “Our preliminary investigation reveals that the more likely cause of his termination was retaliation.”