Will the Jury System Survive the Peña-Rodriguez Exception to Rule 606(B)?: The Court's Response to Racial Discrimination by a Juror Leaves the Future of the American Jury Trial System in Jeopardy
23 Pages Posted: 28 Feb 2018 Last revised: 14 Oct 2018
Date Written: January 19, 2018
The enforcement of no-impeachment rules has been a long-standing tradition in the United States preventing jurors from offering testimony as to impeach their own verdict. In March 2017, the Supreme Court changed course from centuries of jurisprudence and superseded the Federal Rules of Evidence with a new exception to Rule 606(b) in the Court’s decision in Peña-Rodriguez v. Colorado. The Court’s effort to “root out” racial bias in the justice system resulted in the debunking of the legislative authority granted to the Congress while creating an exception that does little, if anything, toward eliminating racial bias during jury deliberations. In fact, the new exception leaves more questions than answers. No verdict is safe from the potential of seemingly endless post-verdict investigations and litigation seeking juror testimony to challenge the validity of the verdict. Even more, the jury room may no longer be a place for the free discussion and open debate by ordinary persons which highlight the principles that have defined the American jury trial system for centuries.
Keywords: No-impeachment, Rule 606(b), Federal Rules of Evidence 606, racial animus exception, jury verdict
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