- Associated Press - Thursday, July 6, 2017

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - Washington’s Supreme Court says prosecutors must give an explanation if they want to dismiss the last member of a defendant’s race from the pool of potential jurors being selected to hear his or her case.

The unanimous decision Thursday is an attempt to limit the effect of racial bias in jury trials. It came in the case of Matthew Erickson, a black man, who was charged with unlawful use of a weapon and resisting arrest in 2013 after police said he displayed a knife in downtown Seattle.

During jury selection, prosecutors dismissed the only black person remaining in the jury pool. Erickson objected, but the judge said the decision wasn’t necessarily discriminatory.

Thursday’s decision by Justice Susan Owens reversed that and ordered a new trial for Erickson. It said that any time prosecutors dismiss the only remaining member of a defendant’s race from the jury pool, they must give a reason for doing so that does not have to do with race.

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