Discipline board to probe Illinois prosecutor's racial language

Dec. 5, 2013 at 1:33 PM

CHICAGO, Dec. 5 (UPI) -- An Illinois prosecutor could be disciplined by a state review panel over allegations he used racially charged language while trying a black defendant.

The Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission charges comments by Williamson County State's Attorney Charles Garnati during a July 2011 murder trial appealed to "racial prejudice," the Chicago Tribune reported Thursday.

The commission's complaint states that during closing arguments in the murder trial of Marcus Marshall, Garnati told an all-white jury "there are some very good law-abiding citizens" in the country's small African-American population. Contrasting how whites and blacks relate to police, Garnati began, "Now in our white world, ladies and gentlemen. ..."

Marshall, who is black, was convicted and sentenced to 85 years in prison.

A panel of the commission's hearing board will consider evidence against Garnati and make recommendations for any disciplinary action. The Illinois Supreme Court will make the final decision.

Garnati agreed this past summer that Marshall should receive a new trial. The Illinois Appellate Court ordered a new trial in September.

The prosecutor is serving his eighth four-year term in office.

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