The State Supreme Court issued a pretty damning opinion.
However, several justices nevertheless expressed concern about the issues raised, saying race is often a factor – conscious or unconscious – when lawyers use their peremptory challenges to dismiss potential jurors from cases.
“Peremptory challenges are used in trial courts throughout this state, often based largely or entirely on racial stereotypes or generalizations,” Justice Steven Gonzalez wrote. “As a result, many qualified persons in this state are being excluded from jury service because of race.”
When lawyers question members of a jury pool in Washington, they can ask prospects to be removed for cause, such as some evidence the juror would not be able to sit impartially on the case. They are also allowed three peremptory challenges, by which they can have jurors removed for no reason at all, as long as the effect is not purposeful discrimination.
Even though the Supreme Court upheld the conviction in this case, this is still a shot across the bow. And hopefully it will lead to actual changes.