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.

Continue reading


Death in Florida: Predicting Hurst v. Florida

While Florida may seem to many to be a lawless state where crime is committed without penalty, the state’s justice system occasionally overcompensates and allows judges in trial courts to ignore a jury’s sentence recommendation. In 1998, Timothy Lee Hurst murdered his co-worker at a local Popeye’s as he tried to rob it. The jury in his trial voted to declare him guilty and, along a 7-5 margin, to recommend the death sentence.

Continue reading