Court creates exception to no-impeachment rule for racial animus

Defendants have a right to an impartial jury, according to the Sixth Amendment, but state and federal laws tend to prohibit digging into jury deliberations to find signs of bias. Jury deliberations are meant to be private and so most challenges that seek to uncover what may have been said in order to prove impartiality are non-starters.

Today, the Supreme Court found an exception to that longstanding custom in a case out of Colorado: Peña Rodriguez v. Colorado.

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12 Angry Men v. 1 Angry Judge

Who gets to decide who lives and who dies (by the death penalty)? If you recall, this is in a way the question that the Supreme Court addressed in Hurst v. Florida – a death penalty case from the state. Florida’s death penalty system allows a judge to skirt around a jury’s non-binding recommendation in the sentencing phase of the trial. But under the Constitution, who gets to decide the sentence? The jury or the judge?

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The Sugarland Express

The Justices issued another per curiam opinion early in the term, in November. That case, Mullenix v. Luna, took a look at a Texas police chase that resulted in the shooting death of the perpetrator and whether the police officer was entitled to qualified immunity. The Court handed down an 8-1 decision, with an unsigned majority opinion, joined by a concurrent decision by Justice Antonin Scalia. Justice Sonia Sotomayor filed a dissenting opinion.

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