Trial Judges Cannot Dismiss Juries Based on Race
In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court of Kentucky ruled earlier this month that trial judges cannot dismiss juries because of their racial makeup. In Commonwealth v. Doss, a case originating in Jefferson County, the trial judge had dismissed a jury because it did not have enough black members. On appeal, Kentucky’s highest court determined that to uphold the trial judge’s dismissal of the jury would be tantamount to including or excluding a juror based on race, which is impermissible under the law. In a unanimous decision, the Kentucky Supreme Court quipped that allowing the trial judge to use his or her discretion to select a jury “is short-sighted and would be short-lived.” Unless jurors are deliberately stricken from the jury pool on the basis of race, the jury should not be dismissed, regardless of its ultimate racial composition. As long as the jury is drawn from a pool that reflects a fair cross-section of the community, the jury selection is proper.