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The D.C. Court of Appeals has ordered a new trial for a D.C. man convicted of assault charges after finding the prosecutor improperly used peremptory challenges to remove all of the black women from the jury pool. Leon Robinson was convicted in 2002 of assault with intent to kill and other related charges for shooting a man in retaliation for an attack on his mother and sister. Before jury selection, Assistant U.S. Attorney Glenn Leon voiced concern that some jurors might sympathize unduly with Robinson, though those concerns were never specified in court papers. Then Leon used six of his 10 peremptory strikes to eliminate all six black female potential jurors. At the time, Robinson’s attorneys — Todd Edelman and Alison Flaum of the D.C. Public Defender Service — questioned the removals and AUSA Leon offered to respond, but D.C. Superior Court Judge Frederick Weisberg found that since Leon did not remove all the white women jurors or all the black male jurors, there was no basis for a discrimination claim. The Court of Appeals disagreed. In a July 21 opinion, Judge Stephen Glickman wrote, “If it is impermissible to exclude jurors because of their race or their gender, it is impermissible to exclude jurors because of their race and their gender. Two bad partial reasons for a peremptory strike do not add up to a good reason; they simply equate to a reason that is doubly bad.” The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the D.C. Public Defender Service declined to comment.

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