Oregon Supreme Court lets stands reversal of Portland murder conviction after Black jurors excluded from trial

The Oregon Supreme Court has let stand a ruling that sets a new judicial test in the state for determining whether potential jurors have been excluded because of their

race. The new standard, known as a “comparative juror analysis,” was used by the Oregon Appeals Court in July to determine that Multnomah County prosecutors had dismissed

two members of a juror pool because they were Black — the same race as a defendant accused of murder. The appellate ruling overturned the conviction of Darian McWoods, who

was sentenced to life in prison in 2018 after being found guilty of murder by abuse in the death of his 15-month-old daughter, Kamaya Flores. In a recent statement,

Multnomah County District Mike Schmidt said he was “disappointed” the Oregon Supreme Court had skipped its chance to review the appellate ruling but vowed to prosecute McWoods

again. “The McWoods decision has created confusion in the law that our prosecutors are struggling to navigate,” Schmidt said. “Further clarification from the highest court

on behalf of the state and defense on a topic this important in the administration of justice is sorely lacking.” During McWoods’ trial, lead prosecutor Amity Girt and

second chair Amanda Nadell offered race-neutral reasons to strike the two Black prosecutive jurors: In their responses to a questionnaire, one of the jurors had stated that police

officers often lie, while the other had said innocent people are frequently convicted in the criminal justice system, according to the appellate court ruling. The trial

judge accepted these arguments and allowed both strikes to proceed.