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Friday, December 3, 2021

How a prosecutor addressed a predominantly white jury and won a conviction in the Arbury case

“Anyone with warm blood in their veins, who witnessed this video and knew the context of what was happening, knew it was wrong,” said Mr. King.

From the beginning, the case reflected the painful themes of the Deep South. Murder of a black man by white men with guns, presented by a jury of only one black man. The rest were white. The jury was appointed in response to the protests of Ms. Dunikoski, who unsuccessfully tried to prevent the removal of potential black jurors during the selection process by defense attorneys. It was also a painful moment for Glynn County, a predominantly white county that remains marked by a legacy of segregation.

His parish, Brunswick, earned praise decades ago for the way its black and white leaders worked together to bring schools and community facilities together. But the selection of such a racially one-sided jury has sparked anger and distrust in a neighborhood where more than one in four residents are black. Brunswick is adjacent to four barrier islands known as the Golden Isles, a popular tourist destination that is also home to some of the country’s richest people.

Before the trial, Ms Dunikoski, 54, declined to be interviewed. She has spent her career primarily in the Atlanta metropolitan area, earning a reputation as a tough prosecutor for murderers, gang members and sex offenders. By the end of the trial, she had won the trust of the Arbury family so much that they called her Aunt Linda.

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Things went twisty before falling to Mrs. Dunikowski’s knees. The case was initially reviewed by two local district attorneys’ offices, but in the end, both withdrew from it, citing a conflict of interest; one of the former prosecutors, Jackie Johnson, was charged in connection with the case. It was held in the hands of a third district attorney and then transferred to the more resource-rich Cobb County, where Ms Dunikoski has worked since 2019.

Prior to joining the Cobb County office, Ms. Dunikoski spent more than 17 years as a prosecutor in Fulton County, where one of the most high-profile cases was the trial of a group of Atlanta public school teachers who were convicted in 2015 of racketeering. and other fees for changing student standardized test scores. Critics said prosecutors had offered a group of predominantly black teachers as the scapegoats for the school district, which had much deeper systemic problems.

In 2009, the Associated Press reported that Ms. Dunikoski was jailed by a judge for failing to pay a $ 100 fine after a judge cited her for contempt. At the time, the chief district attorney reportedly got into a fight with the judge, claiming that he unfairly damaged the reputation of an honest lawyer.

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