Can I Appeal My Conviction Because the Jury Was Biased?

  • Jul 30 2018

If you are convicted of a crime, you will likely consider whether you have grounds to appeal your conviction. If you think a jury was biased against you, you will rightfully want to see if you can appeal your conviction on those grounds.

While juries are supposed to be impartial, every juror brings with them their own point of view and preconceived notions. Unfortunately, demonstrating that a juror’s bias impacted your trial so much that your conviction should be reversed can be difficult. It is important to understand what all of your jury-related rights are to more fully assess whether you can appeal on jury grounds.

How Many Jurors am I Entitled To?

First, it is helpful to have an understanding of what your jury-related rights are. If you were convicted in federal court, you have the right to a 12-member jury panel. A verdict by 11 may be permitted in some circumstances if a juror is excused for good cause, such as significant health issues. If you were convicted in Florida state court, you have the right to a jury of at least six individuals who must return a unanimous verdict. You can still get a 12-member jury panel in Florida state court if you are charged with a crime punishable by life, a life felony, and any capital offenses.  

Does the Jury Need to Reflect the Makeup of My Community?

While the jury pool, meaning the initial pool of prospective jurors that jurors are selected from, must be a representative cross-section of your community, there is no requirement that the final jury must be. For example: if your community is 60 percent Hispanic or Latino, but your jury is 60 percent white, so long as the pool of people your jury was selected from are approximately 60 percent Hispanic or Latino the jury pool will be considered to be a representative cross-section.

However, lawyers cannot exclude individuals in the jury pool simply on the basis of that individual’s race or gender. If you are able to show that the opposing counsel excluded certain jury pool members on the basis of their race or gender, you may be able to show that this discrimination had a significant and negative impact on the outcome of your trial and appeal your case on those grounds.

What if the Jury Showed Bias Against Me?

As previously stated above, appealing a verdict on the basis that a jury was biased against you can be difficult. Courts considering these appeals generally look to see whether the bias resulted in a “harmless error,” meaning that, while the juror was likely biased, that bias did not actually impact the outcome of your case. This is not an impossible case to make but it can be a complicated one.

What Do I Do if I Think My Jury Rights Were Violated?

If you believe that your rights to a jury were violated and that this violation had a significant impact upon the outcome of your case, the criminal defense attorneys at Valiente, Carollo and McElligott PLLC are ready to help talk through your options. We believe that everyone deserves a fair trial, and will fight to ensure your rights are upheld no matter what stage your case is in. Contact Valiente, Carollo and McElligott PLLC today.

Posted in: Criminal