Daily Mail, May 14, 2015
An Iowa judge has dismissed a 112-member jury pool after determining that a black man charged with murder couldn’t get a fair trial when all but one potential juror is white.
Tyrone Washington Jr., 41, of Northwood is accused in the August 2013 stabbing death of his ex-girlfriend, 30-year-old Justina Smith, the Globe Gazette reported.
Defense attorney Charles Kenville requested to have the entire jury pool stricken, and District Judge Colleen Weiland on Tuesday granted his motion.
Out of the 112 people in the jury pool, 111 had identified themselves as white. One juror identified himself as Native American.
Kenville said the lack of racial diversity wasn’t intentional but that ‘the system is broken in Webster County and this court needs to fix it for Mr. Washington’s rights to be upheld.’
He called for a change in the computerized systems by which citizens are requested for jury service using Iowa Department of Motor Vehicles and voter registration records. Kenville said minority conviction rates decrease by 10 percent if a minority is a member of the jury panel.
[Editor’s Note: Webster County, Iowa, is 92 percent white and 4 percent black, according to the 2010 Census.]