The Iowa Supreme Court has ordered a new trial for a man convicted of assaulting a police officer based on the jury selection in the case. Jerin Mootz was accused of assaulting a Davenport police officer outside a bar following a disturbance in 2009.
During the selection of the jury, Mootz asked that a potential juror who had been a bartender, be removed from consideration. The district court ruled the juror could not be removed because he was Hispanic, and the officer involved in the case was Hispanic, and it was important to have minority representation on the jury.
Mootz was found guilty of the assault charge, but appealed, saying the denial of his right to strike the juror did not allow him to have a fair trial. The Court of Appeals ruled that the district court was wrong, but it did not prejudice the case. The Iowa Supreme Court ruled that Mootz’s request to remove the juror was not shown to be based on racial discrimination, and should have been allowed.
The high court said it would be impossible for Mootz to show prejudice from the juror who was allowed to participate in the trial in error. So the court says any ruling in a case where the juror was improperly seated should be reversed.
Mootz’s case is being sent back to the district court for a new trial.
See the ruling here: Mootz ruling PDF