Iowa Minorities Given New Tool To Challenge All-White Juries

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A recent Iowa Supreme Court ruling means black defendants on trial in Iowa have a better chance of challenging all-white juries.

The court’s decision last Friday throws out a method previously used to gauge the racial composition of a jury and says judges must consider multiple methods of assessment that offer a more balanced review.

The court considered the appeal of Kelvin Plain Sr., a black Waterloo man convicted by an all-white jury of harassment. The jury pool in his case had one black man among 56 potential jurors.

Plain’s attorney, Gary Dickey, says the ruling now gives minority defendants in Iowa an avenue to challenge jury pools lacking a minority presence.

Plain may get a new trial if a judge, using the court’s new assessment directive, determines the jury pool violated his right to an impartial jury.

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