Tags: miguel angel pena-rodriguez | supreme court

Miguel Angel Pena-Rodriguez: Supreme Court May Rule Racial Bias Allows Breach of Jury Secrecy

Image: Miguel Angel Pena-Rodriguez: Supreme Court May Rule Racial Bias Allows Breach of Jury Secrecy

A U.S. flag flies at half-staff outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Sept. 30, 2016, in Washington, D.C. The Supreme Court returned for a new term Monday, Oct. 3. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

By    |   Tuesday, 11 Oct 2016 05:52 PM

The Supreme Court seemed likely on Tuesday to rule in favor of Miguel Angel Pena-Rodriguez, an immigrant who claimed he didn’t get a fair trial after two members of the jury that convicted him for improperly touching teenage girls reported that another member made racially biased remarks about his Mexican heritage.

In earlier cases, the Supreme Court ruled that the jury’s privacy was paramount. This time around, however, the accusations of racial bias may be the tipping point that the Supreme Court says justifies invading the jury room to find out what was said there, according to The Associated Press. During Pena-Rodriguez’s appeal, Justice Stephen Breyer said that jurors may need to be questioned in these cases to “create a judicial system that is seen as fair,” AP reported.

In the Pena-Rodriguez case, one juror was reported to have said that he determined Pena-Rodriguez was guilty because the man is “Mexican, and Mexican men ... think they can do whatever they want with women,” according to NPR.

The juror reportedly used his experience as a former policeman to reach these conclusions, which show racial bias by using race to determine guilt or innocence. None of the other jurors were reported to show any racial bias and the jury voted 12-0 to convict Pena-Rodriguez on three misdemeanor charges while deadlocking on a felony charge of attempted sexual assault.

When the jurors reported the bias of their fellow juror, the trial judge ruled that no inquiry could be made due to Colorado’s rule against inquiries into jury activities. Colorado’s Supreme Court upheld the ruling. More than 20 jurisdictions including California and South Carolina now allow jury inquiries in cases of racial bias.

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The Supreme Court seemed likely to rule in favor of immigrant Miguel Angel Pena-Rodriguez, who claimed he didn’t get a fair trial after members of the jury that convicted him for improperly touching teenage girls reported that another juror made racially biased remarks about his Mexican heritage.
miguel angel pena-rodriguez, supreme court
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2016-52-11
Tuesday, 11 Oct 2016 05:52 PM
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