United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR EVIDENTIARY
HEARING AND NEW TRIAL
D. BORMAN U NITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
moves for an evidentiary hearing and new trial under
Pena-Rodriguez v. Colorado, 137 S.Ct. 855 (2017), in
light of a post-verdict email to the Court from the only
African-American juror. (ECF #57, filed 6/6/19, PgID 344.)
Defendant was convicted by a jury on Friday, May 31, 2019 -
4:00pm - of being a felon in possession of a firearm. After
the foreperson read the verdict, the Court asked each juror -
was that your verdict of guilty - and each juror,
individually, affirmed that he or she had rendered a verdict
hours later, at 6:58pm, a juror emailed a communication to
the Court's jury department stating that she felt
"peer pressured" by the other jury members to reach
a guilty verdict (Redacted Letter attached). The juror also
stated that she believed there was reasonable doubt and more
evidence was needed to find the defendant guilty. The juror
further stated that the other jurors said that she was not
using common sense, and that she was berated by other jurors
every time she brought up the lack of evidence.
the juror stated that the other jurors sided with the police,
although they agreed that there was enough lack of evidence
to cause a reasonable doubt, because the "cops say he is
guilty." On June 6, 207 the Government filed a
"Motion to Enforce FRE 606(b)'s Protection of
Internal Jury Deliberations." (ECF #56, PgID 332.)
6, 2019, Defendant filed a Motion for Evidentiary Hearing and
New Trial. (ECF #57, PgID 344.)
7, 2019, the Court held a hearing on these motions.
Court finds that the Supreme Court opinion in
Pena-Rodriguez v. Colorado, 137 S.Ct. 855 (2017)
controls the Court's resolution of these motions. In
Pena-Rodriguez, the Court held that despite the
Federal Rule of Evidence 606(b) no-impeachment of jury
verdict rule, there is an exception "when after the jury
is discharged, a juror comes forward with compelling evidence
that another juror made clear and explicit statements
indicating that racial animus was a significant motivating
factor in his or her note to convict."
Pena-Rodriguez at 861.
Pena-Rodriguez, the issue was that during
deliberation a juror had expressed anti-Hispanic bias."
Supreme Court held that it was required to decide whether
there is an exception to the no-impeachment rule "when a
juror's statements indicate that racial animus was a
significant motivating factor in his or her finding of guilt.
Id. at 867.
Supreme Court held that
where a juror makes a clear statement that indicates he or
she relied on racial stereotypes or animus to convict a
criminal defendant, the Sixth Amendment requires that the
no-impeachment rule gives 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. Not
every offhand comment indicating racial bias or hostility
will justify setting aside the no-impeachment bar to allow
further judicial inquiry. For the inquiry to proceed, there
must be a showing that one or more jurors made statements
exhibiting overt racial bias that case serous doubt on the
fairness and impartiality of the jury's deliberations and
resulting verdict. To qualify, the statement must ten to show
that racial animus was a significant motivating factor in the
juror's vote to convict. Whether that threshold showing
has been satisfied is a matter committed to the substantial
discretion of the trial court in light of all the
circumstances, including the content and timing of the
alleged statements and the reliability of the proffered
Id. at 869.
Supreme Court further noted in Pena-Rodriguez:
In this case, the alleged statements by a juror were
egregious and unmistakable in their ...