A new judicial precedent in Oregon may eventually extend to Washington. Oregon’s new standard for determining whether potential jurors have been excluded because of their race is called ‘Comparative Juror Analysis’.
Comparative Juror Analysis arose out of a case involving prosecutors that dismissed two members of a jury pool because they were the same race as the defendant, whom was facing murder charges. An appeals court overturned the defendant’s ultimate conviction. During the actual trial the prosecutors offered race neutral reasons for the jurors’ dismissals. The prosecutors claimed that the potential jurors’ responses to their juror questionnaire form indicated they were bias because one said that police officers often lie and the other said that innocent people are often convicted. The trial court accepted these reasons and booted the potential jurors from the juror panel.
The problem? Well, the appeals court determined that other jurors who weren’t dismissed had also given similar answers to the same exact questions. These potential jurors, however, were not the same race as the defendant and were not struck from the panel. The Oregon appeals court determined that the prosecutor’s basis for the black jurors’ dismissal was a ruse, and was really only done so as to avoid having the black jurors on the panel because of their race. Oregon trial attorneys are now having to figure out how to deal with this new empaneling standard. No doubt Washington trial attorneys may soon be in the same proverbial boat.
SQ Attorneys is a Washington State criminal defense law firm comprised of two seasoned criminal defense lawyers, Greg Schwesinger and Saad Qadri. Although the firm and its attorneys does not support, or otherwise condone, criminal behavior, the criminal attorneys that make up the SQ team certainly realize that sometimes good people make bad choices or otherwise get caught up in a bad situations. Some crimes like DUI – for instance – don’t even include a ‘state of mind’ element – the government has simply legislated that certain behavior – regardless of the person’s intent or knowledge – is illegal. If you or a loved one is cited for a crime, regardless of the type, don’t despair, contact a qualified criminal defense attorney (like the ones that make up the team at SQ Attorneys) to assist you in navigating the criminal justice system. SQ Attorneys can be reached at (425) 359-3791 or (206) 441-0900.