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Court of Appeals Overturns McWoods Verdict After Finding Jurors Were Dismissed Because of Their Race

The Oregon Court of Appeals overturned the murder conviction of a Black man after finding that prosecutors dismissed two potential jurrors because they were Black. In 2018, jurors in Multnomah County Circut Court found Darian McWoods guilty of murder by abuse in the death of his 15-month old daughter, Kamaya Flores.

In the ruling, Presiding Judge Josephine Mooney found that while Multnomah County Senior Deputy District Attorney Amanda Nadell may have offered race-neutral reasons to strike both prospective jurors, those arguments were only a “pretext.” The state did not seek to strike similarly situated jurors who were not Black. “Racial discrimnation in the selection of jurors is harmful,” Judge Mooney wrote.

During the jury selection process, McWoods’ defense attorney Josephine Townsend challenged both dismissals under the Batson rule, a 1968 Supreme Court decision prohibiting the exclusion of prospective jurors based on their race.

The District Attorney’s Office said that they will use the Court of Appeals decision to further educate and inform their staff about their role in the administration of justice: “We are committed to the ongoing pursuit of a safer, more equitable system.”

Absent an appeal to the Oregon Supreme Court from by the Department of Justice, the case will return to Circuit Court, where it will be retried or dismissed. Mcwood remains in custody at the Eastern Oregon Correctional Institute in Pendleton.

📸: Istock

See the original article here: Man's murder conviction overturned after Black jurors excluded |

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