NATION : Black to Preside at Racial Death Trial

From Times Wire Services

A black state Supreme Court judge has been selected to preside over the trial of seven men charged in the racial killing of a black youth during an attack by a white mob in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn last month, court officials said today.

Justice Thaddeus Owens, 70, was chosen by Matt Crossen, chief administrator of the courts, spokeswoman Mary De Bourbon said.

De Bourbon explained that the random selection process by judges can be bypassed if a case is unusually sensitive or requires special expertise. De Bourbon denied that the fact Owens is black had anything to do with his selection. "It has everything to do with the fact he is an excellent judge," she said, adding, "He has a well established reputation for fairness."

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