The no-impeachment rule, Federal Rule of Evidence 606(b), necessitates that jurors keep their deliberations secret. However, in the 2017 Supreme Court case Peña-Rodriguez v. Colorado, the Court created a racial bias exception to the no-impeachment rule. This exception allows jurors to notify the court when “one or more jurors made statements exhibiting overt racial bias that cast serious doubt on the fairness and impartiality of the jury’s deliberations and resulting verdict.” This Note argues that this standard is too narrow because it fails to consider several situations of racial bias, like implicit bias. The ineffectiveness of this exception is demonstrated by the fact that there are only two instances where a defendant met this standard and was granted a new trial. This Note proposes that all courts follow a different standard. First, whenever there is an instance of racial bias during jury deliberations, courts must hold an evidentiary hearing to interview the jurors. Second, courts must evaluate the evidence by using a totality of factors test to determine whether a new trial should be granted. The factors proposed by this Note have been pulled from courts across the country who have faced juror racial bias. By using this standardized approach, courts will have a clearer methodology to evaluate whether a juror’s racial bias compromised a person’s right to an impartial trial.
WHAT COUNTS AS ‘RACIST ENOUGH?’: A CLEARER STANDARD FOR NEW TRIALS WHEN JURORS DEMONSTRATE RACIAL BIAS,
31 J. L. & Pol'y
Available at: https://brooklynworks.brooklaw.edu/jlp/vol31/iss1/4