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Judicial panel hears arguments over lesbian juror

PASADENA, Calif., Aug. 5 (UPI) -- A U.S. appeals court in California is considering arguments in a case in which a lesbian potential juror was dismissed from a case regarding a gay inmate.

Trial lawyers shouldn't be able to dismiss potential jurors because of their sexual orientation, defense attorneys told a panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena, the Los Angeles Times reported.

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Thursday's arguments resulted from a case a year ago in which a prosecutor excluded a lesbian from the jury pool in an assault case against gay, Nigerian-born Daniel Osazuwa.

The prosecutor in that case had legitimate reasons for removing the potential juror, U.S. Attorney Mark R. Yohalem told the panel, because she told the court her close friends included some Nigerians, and not because she was gay.

Jon W. Davidson, legal director for the national Lambda Legal organization that litigates court challenges on behalf of lesbians and gays, said he hoped what some refer to as the "Osazuwa" challenge would result in more protection for homosexuals.

The 9th Circuit panel is "hard to read," Davidson said.

The federal judiciary has added gender and religion to constitutionally protected categories, but efforts to add sexual orientation has so far failed, the report said.

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