Whose Rights Are They, Anyway? Juror Secrecy versus Defendants’ Right to Impartial Trial: SCOTUS to Hear Clinic’s Case

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear argument in Peña-Rodriguez v. Colorado, which asks whether the Sixth Amendment right to an impartial jury requires defendants in criminal cases to be allowed to introduce testimony from jurors to prove that racial bias infected jury deliberations.  At the heart of the case is whether the Constitution’s singular antipathy for racial discrimination outweighs the longstanding tradition, embodied in the federal rules of evidence and those of most states, that jurors cannot impeach their own verdicts.

Jeffrey Fisher, co-director of the Supreme Court Litigation Clinic will argue for the petitioner, Miguel Angel Peña-Rodríguez, on October 11th.  Over the past year, the clinic’s students who have worked, or are currently working, on the case are: Michael Fields (JD 2016); Danny Kane (JD 2016); Sarah Clark (JD 2017); Sean Janda (JD 2017); Hannah Kieschnick (JD 2017); Brandon Martinez (JD 2017); and Grace Zhou (JD 2017). The clinic is co-counsel with Jonathan Rosen, an appellate public defender in Colorado.

Two recent articles in the New York Times and Law 360 provide in-depth coverage and analysis of the constitutional issues to be presented.