December 04, 2007

Stereotypes cause mistrial

Jury's talk about Indians and alcohol gets man new trialA judge threw out an assault conviction against an American Indian after some jurors discussed stereotypes about the drinking habits of Indians during deliberations.

Kerry Benally of the Ute tribe deserves a new trial because two jurors failed to honestly answer questions about their "preconceived notions" about Indians before trial, U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball ruled Nov. 20.
Judge throws out assault conviction, says jurors showed bias

Jury member says talk turned to American Indians' drinking habits during deliberationsAccording to an affidavit by Cano, the jury foreman told his peers that he had lived on or near a reservation. She said the foreman told them "When Indians get alcohol, they all get drunk," and that "when they do get drunk, they get wild or violent."

A female juror appeared to agree by saying something about what happens when “they get drunk,” Cano wrote. Two other members of the jury talked about the need to send a message to the reservation--one allegedly saying his relatives in law enforcement had talked "about what happens when people mess with police officers and get away with it," according to Cano.
Comment:  This is an excellent example of how stereotypes affect real life.

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