Jurors in counterfeit Native jewelry case will watch video on unconscious bias
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Tens of thousands of dollars worth of jewelry was allegedly imported from the Philippines and sold as Native American jewelry across New Mexico.
Court documents filed in 2017 detail one of the largest cases involving counterfeit Native American jewelry. The jewelry was allegedly sold in Old Town Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Gallup.
The suspects in the case, Imad, Iyad, Nedal, and Raed Aysheh, are Palestinian Muslims. Because of this, their attorneys asked the judge to have jurors watch a video on unconscious bias.
“Quick decision making is shaped literally by built-in mechanisms of how we grew up, where we grew up. It’s the environment, what we like, what we dislike, and we don’t put much thought into it.”
That is how Ahmad Assad describes unconscious bias. Assad is a legal defense attorney in Albuquerque and KOB 4’s legal expert.
According to Assad, this case warrants a closer look at these biases.
“These folks happened to be of a particular ethnicity and a particular religion, so those items aren’t relevant to the case and should not take part of any juror’s ability to decide this case on the facts solely,” Assad said.
The Israel-Hamas War and matters regarding it have hit close to home. A rally regarding the war even paused Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s State of the State address this year.
Since the start of the war, cases of Islamophobia and antisemitism have reportedly gone up.
The men’s attorneys said it is particularly important to address this. The attorneys argue the presence of these biases may impact the men’s right to a fair and impartial jury.
“It is a cautionary measure that I believe is sound and appropriate in most cases that have these features,” Assad said.
Assad added research has backed up the validity of unconscious bias. As a result, it is becoming a bigger factor when gathering a fair and impartial jury.
“You’ll start seeing a lot more of these presentations. They are, indeed, based on what is now becoming more acceptable in terms of how humans think and decide issues. You’re going to see, probably, more of these types of efforts and these motions moving forward in state and federal courts all over the country,” Assad said.
The trial will tentatively begin May 6.