Litigation » Racist Jury Deliberations ‘Smoking Gun,’ says Kagan

Racist Jury Deliberations ‘Smoking Gun,’ says Kagan

Jury boxPhoto by Jason Doiy2-9-11054-2011

October 13, 2016

When a jury was sequestered to deliberate in the sexual assault trial of Miguel Angel Peña Rodriguez, one juror said he felt Peña Rodriguez was guilty because he was Mexican, and “Mexican men take whatever they want.” That is the “best smoking-gun evidence you’re ever going to get about race bias in the jury room,” Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan said this week. The court is considering whether to allow challenges to statements made during jury deliberations if there is an allegation of racial discrimination. Eighteen states already allow such challenges. During oral argument, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. asked whether the exception would also apply to religious bias. “Same thing in this case, except it’s not, you know, this is how Mexicans act. It’s this is how Catholics or Jews act, so they’re obviously guilty.” Justice Sonia Sotomayor countered: “I always thought the most pernicious and odious discrimination in our law is based on race.”

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