Lack of racial diversity leads judge to dismiss jury pool

Save Story
Leer en español

Estimated read time: 1-2 minutes

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

FORT DODGE, Iowa (AP) — 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.

According to 2013 census data, roughly 5 percent of residents in Webster County are black.

"The process should be delivering a roughly equivalent number," Kenville said, arguing the "substantial underrepresentation" of blacks would hinder his client's ability to get a fair trial.

A new trial date hasn't been set. The case is expected to remain in Webster County, about 80 miles north of Des Moines.


Information from: Globe Gazette,

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Most recent Business stories

Related topics

The Associated Press


    Get informative articles and interesting stories delivered to your inbox weekly. Subscribe to the Trending 5.
    By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

    KSL Weather Forecast