State of Washington v. Berhe

This court case is completed

Racial biases in jury deliberations violate a defendant’s right to a fair trial and undermine the fair and impartial administration of the criminal justice system. A black juror in a criminal case was accused by other jurors of siding with a defendant purely because they were both black. Following the conviction of the defendant, the juror reached out to the defendant’s attorney to inform him of the racial hostility during jury deliberations. In spite of the attorney’s requests for a thorough investigation, the trial court made very little inquiry and refused to order a new trial. The Court of Appeals affirmed. We filed an amicus brief with the Washington Supreme Court asking that the court require investigations into these incidents and that they grant the defendant in the case a new trial.