Washington justices decry race bias in jury selection

By

Published:

 

SEATTLE — Justices on Washington's Supreme Court are decrying what they describe as persistent racial bias in jury selection in the state, and they're calling for new protections against it.

The high court used an appeal in a murder case to engage in a lengthy discussion about race Thursday. Kirk Saintcalle, a black man, appealed his conviction for felony murder because prosecutors struck the only potential black juror in the case from his jury pool.

Eight of the nine justices voted to uphold the conviction, but several nevertheless expressed serious concern about the issues raised. The five lead, concurring and dissenting opinions spanned 110 pages, and several justices called for remedies ranging from new court rules to protect against bias in jury selection to the elimination of peremptory challenges of potential jurors — a legal tradition that dates to the 13th century.