Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

United States

Supreme Court Rejects Case on Juror Said to Harbor Racial Bias

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday turned away an appeal from a death row inmate in Texas who said his jury had been tainted by racial bias. The inmate, Kristopher Love, a Black man, had objected to the seating of a juror who had said he believed “nonwhite races” to be the “more violent races.”

The court’s three liberal members dissented, saying the Supreme Court should have instructed the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the state’s highest court for criminal matters, to reconsider Mr. Love’s challenge.

“When racial bias infects a jury in a capital case, it deprives a defendant of his right to an impartial tribunal in a life-or-death context,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote, joined by Justices Stephen G. Breyer and Elena Kagan.

The majority, following the court’s standard practice, gave no reasons for refusing to hear Mr. Love’s appeal.

Mr. Love was convicted of committing a murder for hire. As part of jury selection in his case, prospective jurors filled out a questionnaire that asked, among other things, “Do you believe that some races and/or ethnic groups tend to be more violent than others?”

The prospective juror in question, who is white, said yes. He added an explanation: “Statistics show more violent crimes are committed by certain races. I believe in statistics.”

He elaborated when he was questioned by the lawyers in the case, saying he based his views on “news reports and criminology classes” rather than his “personal feelings toward one race or another.” The prospective juror added that he did not “think because of somebody’s race they’re more likely to commit a crime than somebody of a different race” and that he would not feel differently about Mr. Love “because he’s an African American.”

Mr. Love’s lawyers asked the judge to strike the prospective juror for cause, but the judge declined. Mr. Love had exhausted his peremptory challenges, and the juror was seated.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that Mr. Love could not contest the judge’s decision to seat the juror because the judge had earlier granted Mr. Love two extra peremptory challenges. Mr. Love had used those challenges before the juror at issue was questioned.

Justice Sotomayor wrote that “a previously used peremptory strike does not eliminate the need to inquire into the juror’s bias.”

She said that the state appeals court should grapple with whether Mr. Love’s right to an impartial jury had been violated.

“Biases capable of destroying a jury’s impartiality can take many forms,” she wrote. “Whatever the nature of the bias, if a trial court seats a juror who harbors a disqualifying prejudice, the resulting judgment must be reversed.”

Justice Sotomayor added that the questioning of potential jurors played an important role in the effort “to cleanse our jury system of racial bias.”

“Safeguards like this, however, are futile if courts do not even consider claims of racial bias that litigants bring forward,” she wrote. “The task of reviewing the record to determine whether a juror was fair and impartial is challenging, but it must be undertaken, especially when a person’s life is on the line.”

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You May Also Like

United States

Melissa Carone was supposed to be a star witness for Rudolph W. Giuliani on his election denial tour, but she is perhaps better known...


The U.S. House of Representatives passed two bills to address the baby formula shortage Wednesday, with one vote far more partisan than the other...


Biden’s stops in two staunch US allies — South Korea and Japan — are meant to bolster partnerships at a moment of global instability....

United States

A divided federal appeals court panel on Wednesday threw a wrinkle into how the Securities and Exchange Commission prosecutes some enforcement actions by declaring...


President Biden invoked the Defense Production Act Wednesday to address the nationwide baby formula shortage and directed his administration to use Defense Department aircraft to...


In a state that could be pivotal to control of the US Senate, top Republicans are raising concerns that Mastriano could drag the party’s...

United States

The Department of Homeland Security announced on Wednesday that it was suspending the work of an internal advisory board intended to combat disinformation after...


EXCLUSIVE: The Biden administration is criticizing China for failing to take part at the United Nations’ Food Security Ministerial led by Secretary of State...