State V. Tracy

Tracy, an African/American young man, was accused of raping a white 14-year-old at a local music festival. There was no admissible forensic evidence corroborating the alleged assault.

Trial commenced in Caledonia County, but during the jury selection process, a threatening racist epithet was found scrawled on the mirror in the bathroom common to prospective jurors and the general public.

Mr. Sleigh moved for a change of venue given the racial animus pervading the Court atmosphere in St. Johnsbury. Ultimately, the jury trial was held in Burlington. Sleigh persuaded the trial judge to give the jury a “race switching” instructions. That is, the Judge asked the jury to imagine the case with the races of the accused and accuser switched in order to explore how their racial attitude might impact their factual findings.

The jury found Tracy not guilty.

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