OLYMPIA — Washington state’s Supreme Court has adopted a new rule that seeks to eliminate racial bias during jury selection.
The ACLU says it’s the first court in the country to adopt a rule to reduce implicit racial bias in jury trials.
The court issued the rule last week. It goes into effect at the end of April.
The rule will expand the prohibition against using race-based peremptory challenges during jury selection. The challenges allow both sides to exclude certain jurors without giving a reason.
Intentional race discrimination is outlawed, but now challenges based on “implicit, institutional and unconscious” race and ethnic biases will now be rejected.
The new rule says objections to peremptory challenges can be used if an “objective observer” could view race or ethnicity as a factor in use of the peremptory strike.