A Defendant’s Race as a Determinant of the Outcome of His Lawsuit

Racial bias is pervasive in the U.S. criminal justice system. One example of such pervasiveness is that the Federal Rules of Evidence prevent the testimony of jurors regarding how jurors arrived at their conclusions –even when racial bias influences juror decision making. While the Supreme Court attempted to rectify this problem in Pena-Rodriguez v. Colorado by creating an exception to the rule for when jurors explicitly say racial bias impacted their decision, circuits are split on how to apply the rule. Courts should provide jury instructions requiring jurors to report other jurors for using racial bias to influence their decision making. Additionally, courts should fully consider such evidence in reviewing a verdict. Allowing such an exception in contrast with the Federal Rules of Evidence is necessary to ensure a criminal defendant’s right to a fair trial.

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