November 30, 2016 Articles

Proving Racial Bias During Juror Deliberations under Rule 606(b): Pena-Rodriguez v. Colorado

The Supreme Court just heard a case and will decide whether a juror can testify about racial animus inside the jury room during deliberations.

By Mark A. Flores – November 30, 2016

The U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether a rule of evidence declaring a juror incompetent to testify regarding jury deliberations in which the juror participated can prevent a juror from testifying as to racial animus inside the jury room. A Colorado jury convicted Miguel Angel Pena-Rodriguez of three misdemeanor sexual assault charges while failing to reach a verdict on a felony count. Following his conviction, Pena-Rodriguez received information that a juror made derogatory comments about Pena-Rodriguez's ethnicity and immigrant status during deliberations. Specifically, the juror made statements about Mexicans and immigrants having a propensity towards committing sex offenses. The Colorado Supreme Court refused, however, to allow Pena-Rodriguez the opportunity to present evidence of racial animus during deliberations. 

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