Nevada's top court has overturned the murder conviction of a Las Vegas man sentenced to life in prison in the shooting death of his brother-in-law, ruling that a black woman with "Democratic views" was improperly dismissed from the jury pool.
As part of its ruling, the three-judge panel of the state Supreme Court on Thursday ordered a new trial for Jermaine Brass, 28, one of two brothers convicted in the slaying of their sister's husband, Ernest Mitchell, in 2009.
In an appeal of his 2010 conviction on murder, kidnapping and other charges, Brass, who is black, argued successfully that the trial judge improperly excused a prospective juror during jury selection...
..."This discriminatory jury selection constitutes structural error that was intrinsically harmful to the framework of the trial," [...Nevada Supreme Court Justice Michael] Douglas wrote. He cited "our concern with the possibility that the dismissal of a prospective juror before (a hearing) may present the appearance of improper judicial bias."
Concurring with the majority, Justice Mark Gibbons wrote that one reason offered by prosecutors for striking the black juror "was that she is a registered Democrat who had 'Democratic' views on law enforcement."
"Political affiliation is not a proper component as a basis for asserting a challenge to a juror," Gibbons said.
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