Tagged: racial discrimination

SCOTUS Addresses Non-Impeachment Rule in Light of Juror’s Racial Bias

In a recent SCOTUS decision, Pena-Rodriguez v. Colorado, No. 15-606, 580 U.S. ___ (2017) (Court’s PDF), the Court addressed “whether there is an exception to the no-impeachment rule, when after the jury is discharged, a juror comes forward with compelling evidence that another juror made clear and explicit statements indicating that racial animus was a significant motivating factor in his or her vote to convict.” Justice Kennedy delivered the opinion of the Court holding “that where a juror makes a clear statement that indicates he or she relied on racial stereotypes or animus to convict a criminal defendant, the Sixth Amendment requires that the no-impeachment rule give way in order to permit the trial court to consider the evidence of the juror’s statement and any resulting denial of the jury trial guarantee.”

Justice Kennedy reminds us all that racial stereotypes and animus has no place in our justice system. He writes that “our Nation [must] rise above racial classifications that are so inconsistent with our commitment to the equal dignity of all persons.”  He further writes that “[t]he duty to confront racial animus in the justice system is not the legislature’s alone,” reminds us that this Court has many times enforced Constitution’s guarantee against state-sponsored racial discrimination in jury system, and concludes that “[a] constitutional rule that racial bias in the justice system must be addressed – including, in some instances, after the verdict has been entered – is necessary to prevent a systemic loss of confidence in jury verdicts, a confidence that is central premise of the Sixth Amendment trial right.”

Supreme Court Remands Case for Re-sentencing on Batson Violation

On May 23, 206, the Supreme Court decided Foster v. Chatman, No. 14-8349 (U.S. 2016), a thirty-year old death penalty case raising Batson claims of racial selection of the trial jury. The court remanded the case, presumably for a new trial. You can read an analysis by Professor Bennett Gershman in his latest titled How Prosecutors Get Rid of Black Jurors

Related Readings:

Municipal Violations, Fines, Privatized Probation, and Race


Revelations that Ferguson, Mo. subjected its most vulnerable citizens to criminal fines as a partial solution to its budget needs prompted comedian John Oliver to more fully explore the ramifications of such practices. Check it out!