New Ruling Gives Minorities in Iowa a Better Chance at Fair Trials

The Iowa Supreme Court has reversed a 25-year-old ruling, stating that judges must broaden their analysis in regard to whether or not a jury pool includes enough minority members to guarantee a fair trial under the 6th Amendment.

This came after an appeal by a Waterloo man convicted in 2015 of harassing his neighbor. Kelvin Plain Sr. appealed the conviction made by an all-white jury to the Iowa Supreme Court; challenging the racial composition of the jury pool as an unfair representation of a cross section of his peers. Although African-Americans represent 8.9% of the population of Black Hawk County, the pool of potential jurors included only one African-American man among fifty-six potential jurors—or 1.8% of the group. The appeal resulted in the Iowa Supreme Court ruling that judges should consider a different method of analysis regarding jury pool fairness, which hopefully will create a more balanced review.

This new ruling hopefully gives minorities in Iowa a better opportunity to be tried by a jury that reflects their community; or at least to challenge jury pools that are not a fair reflection of their peers.

Read the article here.