- Sep 15, 2020
- Reaction score
- ve, ver, vis, vis, verself
- Political Leaning
Back story: A man was convicted of committing a murder for hire. A woman hired the defendant to kill the new girlfriend of her ex-boyfriend. He shot her as she was getting into her car. Police found the suspects after picking up the getaway driver. The jury selection process had two questions that are of issue with this appeal.
68. Do you sometimes personally harbor bias against members of certain races or ethnic groups?
69. Do you believe that some races and/or ethnic groups tend to be more violent than others?” Jury Questionnaire, p. 12 (Juror 1136B).
A juror answered “No” to question number 68 and in response to question number 69 he stated that “Statistics show more violent crimes are committed by certain races. I believe in statistics.” Later in the vior dire he expanded that his response was based purely on statistics and not on his personal beliefs. He further explained that he would not expect an individual to be more violent based on their race. He said his view came from criminology courses and news reports. The defense had used up all of their strikes on other potential jurors and the judge allowed his defense to strike an additional two jurors on top of that. But, they were unable to have this juror removed from the pool because they were all used up. After the unanimous conviction he appealed based on a racially biased jury member. His first appeal was denied on the basis that he was already granted more strikes than he was allowed. So it went to the Supreme Court where his appeal was denied.
Sotomayor wrote the dissenting opinion. Her opinion is a little messy. For example, she says things like when a juror makes a “clear statement [of racial bias] that influences a decision” the courts need to make an exception. This never happened and she doesn’t claim that it did either. She just felt the need to make the statement in her dissent I presume to fill up space and to muddy the water. She goes on to make statements including things like “in certain circumstances” and “in some instances” without correlating it to the juror’s statements. She also writes that the appeals court ”assumed” he was biased and effectively didn’t care. She claims the decision was “plainly erroneous.” This is also a misrepresentation. The appeals court said the judge followed protocol and made the correct decision because the juror wasn’t biased. The appeals court added that “even if” the juror had some bias (which they did not allege) the appeal would still fail because they used more strikes than they were allowed under state law. So effectively, the courts liberals believe that a juror who cites criminal statistics is grounds for a new trial and tossing a conviction.
More at The NY Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/18/us/politics/supreme-court-racial-bias-juror.html