Posted on October 25, 2022

State Supreme Court Now Assumes All Civil Cases Are Racially Biased

Dori Monson, KIRO, October 21, 2022

It started as a rear-end car accident {snip}

And Thursday, it ended with the Washington State Supreme Court determining that all civil cases in the state must undergo a hearing for a new trial if the losing party claims their court case involved any racial bias.


{snip} Even more, the nine justices wrote that the burden of proof is now on the party that won the original trial — and that it is their burden of proof to show there was no bias.

The ruling stems from an auto collision in which Janelle Henderson, who is Black, claimed the tics and pain connected to her existing Tourette’s Syndrome were worsened after her car was hit by one driven by Alicia Thompson, who is white.


At the civil trial, after hearing Henderson described as “combative” and “confrontational,” and watching three of Henderson’s friends and witnesses all use the same words to describe her as the “life of the party,” the jury denied Henderson’s original claim {snip}

Arguing that these words used by the defense were a trope and the insinuation that the witnesses colluded in their testimony, the plaintiffs claimed racial bias. {snip}

If future cases reach a point where there is a claim of racial bias, the state court wrote in its 33-page opinion, an “objective observer” must be used at a hearing to determine if racial bias played into the verdict. The observer, the justices continued, is “someone who is aware that implicit, institutional, and unconscious biases, in addition to purposeful discrimination, have influenced jury verdicts in Washington state.”