You can find the case here:
Click to access 15-606_886b.pdf
Most important quotes
A Colorado jury convicted petitioner Peña-Rodriguez of harassment and unlawful sexual contact. Following the discharge of the jury, two jurors told defense counsel that, during deliberations, Juror H. C. had expressed anti-Hispanic bias toward petitioner and petitioner’s alibi witness. Counsel, with the trial court’s supervision, obtained affidavits from the two jurors describing a number of biased statements by H. C. The court acknowledged H. C.’s apparent bias but denied petitioner’s motion for a new trial on the ground that Colorado Rule of Evidence 606(b) generally prohibits a juror from testifying as to statements made during deliberations in a proceeding inquiring into the validity of the verdict. The Colorado Court of Appeals affirmed, agreeing that H. C.’s alleged statements did not fall within an exception to Rule 606(b). The Colorado Supreme Court also affirmed, relying on Tanner v. United States, 483 U. S. 107, and Warger v. Shauers, 574 U. S. ___, both of which rejected constitutional challenges to the federal no-impeachment rule as applied to evidence of juror misconduct or bias. Held: Where a juror makes a clear statement indicating that he or she relied on racial stereotypes or animus to convict a criminal defendant, the Sixth Amendment requires that the no-impeachment rule give way in order to permit the trial court to consider the evidence of the juror’s statement and any resulting denial of the jury trial guarantee. Pp. 6–21. (a) At common law jurors were forbidden to impeach their verdict, either by affidavit or live testimony. Some American jurisdictions adopted a more flexible version of the no-impeachment bar, known as the “Iowa rule,” which prevented jurors from testifying only about their own subjective beliefs, thoughts, or motives during deliberations. An alternative approach, later referred to as the federal approach, permitted an exception only for events extraneous to the deliberative process. This Court’s early decisions did not establish a clear preference for a particular version of the no-impeachment rule, appearing open to the Iowa rule in United States v. Reid, 12 How. 361, and Mattox v. United States, 146 U. S. 140, but rejecting that approach in McDonald v. Pless, 238 U. S. 264. The common-law development of the rule reached a milestone in 1975 when Congress adopted Federal Rule of Evidence 606(b), which sets out a broad no-impeachment rule, with only limited exceptions. This version of the no-impeachment rule has substantial merit, promoting full and vigorous discussion by jurors and providing considerable assurance that after being discharged they will not be summoned to recount their deliberations or otherwise harassed. The rule gives stability and finality to verdicts. Pp. 6–9. (b) Some version of the no-impeachment rule is followed in every State and the District of Columbia, most of which follow the Federal Rule. At least 16 jurisdictions have recognized an exception for juror testimony about racial bias in deliberations. Three Federal Courts of Appeals have also held or suggested there is a constitutional exception for evidence of racial bias. In addressing the common-law no-impeachment rule, this Court noted the possibility of an exception in the “gravest and most important cases.” United States v. Reid, supra, at 366; McDonald v. Pless, supra, at 269. The Court has addressed the question whether the Constitution mandates an exception to Rule 606(b) just twice, rejecting an exception each time. In Tanner, where the evidence showed that some jurors were under the influence of drugs and alcohol during the trial, the Court identified “long-recognized and very substantial concerns” supporting the no-impeachment rule. 483 U. S., at 127. The Court also outlined existing, significant safeguards for the defendant’s right to an impartial and competent jury beyond post-trial juror testimony: members of the venire can be examined for impartiality during voir dire; juror misconduct may be observed the court, counsel, and court personnel during the trial; and jurors themselves can report misconduct to the court before a verdict is rendered. In Warger, a civil case where the evidence indicated that the jury forewoman failed to disclose a prodefendant bias during voir dire, the Court again put substantial reliance on existing safeguards for a fair trial. But the Court also warned, as in Reid and McDonald, that the no-impeachment rule may admit of exceptions for “juror bias so extreme that, almost by definition, the jury trial right has been abridged.” 574 U. S., at ___–___, n. 3.
The Court has interpreted the Fourteenth Amendment to prohibit the exclusion of jurors based on race, Strauder v. West Virginia, 100 U. S. 303, 305–309; struck down laws and practices that systematically exclude racial minorities from juries, see, e.g., Neal v. Delaware, 103 U. S. 370; ruled that no litigant may exclude a prospective juror based on race, see, e.g., Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U. S. 79; and held that defendants may at times be entitled to ask about racial bias during voir dire, see, e.g., Ham v. South Carolina, 409 U. S. 524. The unmistakable principle of these precedents is that discrimination on the basis of race, “odious in all aspects, is especially pernicious in the administration of justice,” Rose v. Mitchell, 443 U. S. 545, 555, damaging “both the fact and the perception” of the jury’s role as “a vital check against the wrongful exercise of power by the State,” Powers v. Ohio, 499 U. S. 400, 411. Pp. 13–15. (d) This case lies at the intersection of the Court’s decisions endorsing the no-impeachment rule and those seeking to eliminate racial bias in the jury system.
Racial bias, unlike the behavior in McDonald, Tanner, or Warger, implicates unique historical, constitutional, and institutional concerns and, if left unaddressed, would risk systemic injury to the administration of justice.
This case is important because it illustrates the fact that SCOTUS is still pushing the integrity of the US judicial system–at the same time many of us are seeing the integrity degrade more than ever before. (Taking bags of cash to the DNC chairman to get elected or appointed to a judge’s position).
From Ken Ditkowsky: