Mark Flores for the American Bar Association's Diversity Inclusion: Racial Bias and the No-Impeachment Rule

05/25/2017

Blatant racial animus in the criminal jury room cannot remain protected pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 606(b) and other similar state rules of evidence according to a 5–3 decision recently handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court that found such rules violate the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Peña-Rodriguez, 197 L. Ed. 2d at 127. These evidentiary rules, known as “no-impeachment” rules, generally state:

(1) Prohibited Testimony or Other Evidence. During an inquiry into the validity of a verdict or indictment, a juror may not testify about any statement made or incident that occurred during the jury deliberations; the effect of anything on that juror’s or another juror’s vote; or any juror’s mental processes concerning the verdict or indictment. The Court may not receive a juror’s affidavit of evidence of a juror’s statement on these matters.

(2) Exceptions. A juror may testify about whether:

(A) extraneous prejudicial information was improperly brought to the jury’s attention;

(B) an outside influence was improperly brought to bear on any juror; or

(C) a mistake was made in entering the verdict on the verdict form.

Excerpted from American Bar Association's Diversity Inclusion, Spring 2017, Volume 4, Issue 3. To read the full article, click here.

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