A man convicted of two misdemeanor counts of sexual assault has had his conviction overturned and will now have a new trial. The U.S. Supreme Court recently issued the 5 to 3 ruling, stating that the racial bias of one of the jurors tainted the verdict. In doing so, the man did not have a fair trial.

Remarks During Deliberations Considered Racially Biased

The man’s attorney was speaking with jurors after the trial when he learned of the possible racial bias by one of the jurors. The juror, a former law enforcement officer, reportedly made several remarks about the defendant’s ethnicity -- Hispanic. The remarks included his belief that the man was an undocumented immigrant and that because the defendant was “Mexican,” he was guilty of the crimes against the alleged victims because, “Mexican men were guilty of being aggressive toward woman and young girls.”

The man’s lawyer argued before the judge who sentenced his client that the verdict should be tossed; however, the judge said he could not do that. An appeal was filed and the appeals court agreed with the lower court. The case then went before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court ruled that the defendant did not get a fair trial because of the racial bias of the juror. "All forms of improper bias pose challenges to the trial process. But there is a sound basis to treat racial bias with added precaution," wrote Justice Anthony M. Kennedy in the majority opinion. He also wrote that there has to be clear evidence that a juror “relied on racial stereotypes or animus to convict a criminal defense” before a verdict could even be considered for overturning by a judge.

Jurors Should Have Spoken Up During Deliberations

Some members of the legal community believe that the jurors should have spoken up sooner. That would have ensured that any biased comments from the juror would have been scrutinized. Another attorney said that this ruling by the Supreme Court was to settle a clash between the Sixth and 14th Amendments and the victory went to the 14th Amendment, but only by a small margin.

Are You Facing a Criminal Charge?

Facing criminal charges can be frightening; however, when there is a chance that certain activity during the trial is due to racial bias, it can be frustrating. You need an experienced, local attorney by your side to ensure your rights are protected throughout all phases of the criminal justice system.