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THURSDAY, OCTOBER 19, 2017
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Issue:  Juror Testimony Regarding Racial Bias

Pena-Rodriguez v. Colorado

15-606

QUESTION(S) PRESENTED

Most states and the federal government have a rule of evidence generally prohibiting the introduction of juror testimony regarding statements made during deliberations when offered to challenge the jury’s verdict. Known colloquially as “no impeachment” rules, they are typically codified as Rule 606(b); in some states, they are a matter of common law.

The question presented is whether a no-impeachment rule constitutionally may bar evidence of racial bias offered to prove a violation of the Sixth Amendment right to an impartial jury.

DECISION

Decided March 6, 2017 HOLDING

Where a juror makes a clear statement indicating that he or she relied on racial stereotypes or animus to convict a criminal defend­ant, the Sixth Amendment requires that the no-impeachment rule give way in order to permit the trial court to consider the evidence of the juror’s statement and any resulting denial of the jury trial guar­antee.

KENNEDY, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which GINSBURG, BREYER, SOTOMAYOR, and KAGAN, JJ., joined. THOMAS, J., filed a dis­senting opinion. ALITO, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and THOMAS, J., joined.

Text of Opinion
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ORAL ARGUMENT

Argued October 11, 2016

Appearences
On Behalf of Petitioner Pena-Rodriguez
Jeffrey L. Fisher
On Behalf of Respondent Colorado
Frederick R. Yarger, Solicitor General, Denver, Colo.
On Behalf of United States as Amicus Curiae supporting Respondent
Rachel P. Kovner, Assistant to the Solicitor General, Department of Justice, Washington, D. C.
Transcript
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Audio
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Merit Briefs
Brief for Petitioner Miguel Angel Pena Rodriguez (pdf download)
Brief for Respondent State of Colorado (pdf download)
Reply Brief for Petitioner (pdf download)
Amicus Curiae Briefs
Brief for Center on the Administration of Criminal Law in Support of Petitioner (pdf download)
Brief for Constitutional Accountability Center in Support of Petitioner (pdf download)
Brief for NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc, et al in Support of Petitioner (pdf download)
Brief for National Association of Federal Defenders in Support of Petitioner (pdf download)
Brief for Professor Cedric Merlin Powell of the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law in Support of Petitioner (pdf download)
Brief for Professors of Law in Support of Petitioner (pdf download)
Brief for The Hispanic National Bar Association, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, and the Anti-Defamation League in Support of Petitioner (pdf download)
Brief for United Mexican States in Support of Petitioner (pdf download)
Brief for Colorado District Attorney’s Council in Support of Respondent (pdf download)
Brief for Criminal Justice Legal Foundation in Support of Respondent (pdf download)
Brief for Indiana, Alabama, et al in Support of Respondent (pdf download)
Brief for United States in Support of Respondent (pdf download)

PROCEEDING BELOW

Supreme Court of Colorado
Decided May 18, 2015
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SUPREME PODCAST COVERAGE

DATE TITLE CASE STAGE LISTEN NOW
2016-10-09 Is Juror Testimony About Racial Bias During Jury Deliberations Admissible? Certiorari Granted go to coverage