A general rule has been broken by the U.S. Supreme court this past term.  It ruled that when clear evidence emerges after a jury verdict that there was racial bias during deliberations, the trial judge must make an exception to the usual rule protecting the secrecy of deliberations in order to determine whether the defendant was denied a fair trial. The vote of the court was 5-to-3 in Pena-Rodriguez v. Colorado, 580 U.S. ___ March 6, 2017.

In that appeal, it was learned post-verdict that the jury discussed the defendant’s Hispanic heritage and was critical of anyone who was of the same heritage claiming they were unworthy of belief.

(Note:  The Florida Supreme Court has previously ruled that deliberations shall remain secret even when jurors discuss a defendant’s guilt because he or she did not testify).  It inheres in the verdict.

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