Justices asked to rule that racial bias trumps jury secrecy
WASHINGTON - The American jury room is a bit like Las Vegas: What happens there is supposed to stay there.
But a Supreme Court appeal from a Hispanic man in Colorado raises the prospect that a juror's comments during deliberations can be so offensive that they deprive a defendant of a fair trial.
The justices could say as early as Monday whether they'll take up a case involving a defendant's constitutional right to trial by an impartial jury, and the need for secrecy in jury deliberations.
The man was convicted of attempted sexual assault. After the trial, two jurors provided his lawyer with statements claiming a third juror made derogatory remarks about Mexican men before voting guilty.
Three courts in Colorado have said those statements couldn't be used to upend the conviction.