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California Court: Judges Must Evaluate Juror Bias Claims

Clyde Robinson / Flickr
 

Clyde Robinson / Flickr

(AP) - The California Supreme Court says judges must thoroughly evaluate prosecutors' reasons for excusing prospective jurors to ensure the decisions weren't motivated by racial bias.

The state's high court in a ruling on Thursday clarified a trial court's responsibilities when evaluating a claim of juror discrimination. The ruling overturned three Kern County convictions on the grounds that a trial judge wrongly rejected a claim by the defendants that prosecutors excused a prospective juror because she was Hispanic.

All three defendants were Hispanic. Two were convicted of attempted murder. The third was found guilty of active participation in a criminal street gang.

Associate Justice Goodwin Liu said the ruling marked the first time in 16 years that the state Supreme Court had found a violation of laws prohibiting discrimination during jury selection.

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