Supreme Court Rules Alter the Jury Secrecy Federal Statute
By Menahem Zen | Mar 09, 2017 11:06 AM EST
The Supreme Court rules on Monday to allow jury secrecy law to be overruled based on if a juror makes racially bias statement. However, the ruling alter the secrecy statute which has been upheld for decades.
The ruling was taken by majority 5-3 on Monday, March 6, CNN reported. Three judges the Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts along with Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas dissented. The case was brought by the legal attorney of a man accused for sexual assault in 2007, claiming the verdict to his client Miguel Angel Pena-Rodriguez was based on the racial bias.
Pena-Rodriguez was charged for sexual assault and harassment by two little girls, who testified that he groped them in the bathroom at the Colorado horse-racing track. He was apprehended on the same night, and the two girls identified him as the perpetrator and he was convicted.
Prior to be convicted, one juror made a comment about his Hispanic background that drive him to conduct the sexual assault. The third juror said referring to his race that, "Mexican men take whatever they want."
Following the Supreme Court ruling, Pena-Rodriguez will get a chance for hearing in a lower court. The hearing will try to prove his claim about racially biased verdict.
However, the ruling may endanger the jury secrecy statue according to New York Post. The jury secrecy is the essential principle of jury deliberations in criminal trial and based on the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Furthermore, a federal statute governs and guarantees the jury secrecy in the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.
Racial bias in the courtroom is a serious issue, but the secret deliberation is the very important part of the criminal proceedings. Dissenting judge Justice Alito noted that by tampering the jury secrecy, it would make the jury reluctant to express their views during the deliberation. However, the jurors are expected to speak an debate to make decision on the criminal case on how the ordinary people do in daily lives.
Watch the report on the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to open door for altering jury secrecy below: