The Washington State Supreme Court says the system is not doing enough to prevent racial discrimination in the selection of juries. The criticism came in a decision involving Kirk Saintcalle. Saintcalle, who is black, had argued that the state discriminated against him by removing the only black person in the pool of potential jurists. The Supreme Court agreed with a trial court that there were non-racial reasons for removing that jurist.
But even though the court upheld Saintcalle’s conviction, it agreed that racism is potentially at play in the selection of juries. Most of the court’s opinions make no mention of Saintcalle, instead focusing on the failure of the courts to find effective ways to prevent explicit and implicit racism on juries. Justice Steven Gonzalez begins his 64-page concurrence by saying, “This splintered court is unanimous about one thing: Racial bias in jury selection is still a problem.”
Have you experienced racial discrimination in the courts? What can be done to prevent racial discrimination in jury selection?
- Anna Roberts: Assistant Professor at Seattle University School of Law