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Evidence of jury racial bias in civil trial requires listening to, sixth Circuit says, citing ‘crackhead’ assumption

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A federal trial court docket should maintain a listening to to look at potential jury bias after one lady mentioned jurors thought of the Black plaintiff to be “a crackhead” and referred to his legal professionals because the “Cosby Show,” a federal appeals court docket has dominated.

In an April 6 decision, the sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at Cincinnati mentioned the no-impeachment rule, which typically bars proof of jury deliberations, doesn’t apply in circumstances of racial bias, even in civil circumstances.

A Black juror, mistaken for a Latino lady by white jurors, had mentioned she didn’t suppose the plaintiff received a good trial due to “blatant racial stereotyping.” She mentioned jurors discredited the plaintiff’s testament and thought his calm manner should be as a result of he was ingesting or taking dope throughout trial breaks.

Jurors additionally referred to the plaintiff’s Black lawyer and his trial crew because the “Cosby Show”—a reference to the 1984 TV show The Cosby Show—the Black juror mentioned in her affidavit.

When the Black juror informed colleagues that their job was to make the choice the plaintiff’s extreme power declare, the jurors “kept saying he just wants money; he’s a crackhead; he’s an alcoholic; look at his wife, she’s nodding off; she looks like she’s on heroin,” the Black juror mentioned.

The jury’s “wholly unsupported belief” that the plaintiff and his accomplice have been onerous drug customers “demonstrates overt racial bias,” the sixth Circuit mentioned in an opinion by Judge Eric Clay. The “Cosby Show” reference “only bolsters this conclusion,” Clay mentioned.

The sixth Circuit opinion famous the 2017 U.S. Supreme Court resolution Pena-Rodriguez v. Colorado, by which a juror in a prison prosecution for sexual assault mentioned that, in his experience, Mexican males suppose they’ll do no matter they need with girls. Citing the Sixth Amendment proper to a jury trial in prison circumstances, the Supreme Court said courts may investigate proof of racial bias that interferes with the jury trial promise.

Although Pena-Rodriguez was a prison case primarily based on the Sixth Amendment, the reasoning additionally applies to civil circumstances under the 14th Amendment’s promise of equal safety of the legislation, the sixth Circuit mentioned.

“Because Pena-Rodriguez held that the no-impeachment rule has no place when it comes to evidence of racial bias, and considering the Supreme Court’s precedent establishing the need to eliminate racial discrimination from the civil courtroom, we hold that the no-impeachment rule must give way to evidence of racial bias in civil cases,” Clay wrote.

The appeals court docket dominated in a go well with by John Harden, a Black man who alleged {that a} Heritage Creek, Kentucky, police officer used extreme power when he arrested Harden at a Thorntons comfort retailer in Louisville, Kentucky. Harden had gone to the shop to purchase beer, however the clerk refused to serve him as a result of she thought he already had an excessive amount of to drink. After Harden protested, an officer moonlighting as a safety guard intervened and informed Harden to depart. Harden adopted his directions however returned to the shop to purchase chips.

At that time, the officer informed Harden that he was going to jail except he left. Harden informed the officer to take him to jail. At that time, the officer pinned him to the counter after which slammed him to the bottom, Harden had alleged in his lawsuit.

Clay is an appointee of former President Bill Clinton. Judge Richard Suhrheinrich, an appointee of former President Ronald Reagan, mentioned in a partial dissent he doesn’t suppose the alleged juror statements show the form of critical, overt bias wanted to acquire a listening to.

Hat tip to Bloomberg Law, which had coverage of the choice.

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