St. Louis, MO, February 9, 2010…The Anti-Defamation League hails today's Missouri Supreme Court decision in a ground-breaking case involving alleged juror bias, Fleshner v. Pepose. The Court, in a unanimous opinion on an issue never previously addressed in Missouri: whether a verdict should be overturned based upon expressed prejudice among jury members during deliberations.
ADL argued through a friend of the Court brief, filed by the St. Louis-based law firm of Bryan Cave, LLP, that alleged anti-Semitic comments by some jurors raised great concern that the verdict resulted from unfairness in the process. The League sought a decision that would allow a trial judge to examine potential prejudice and determine whether or not to order a new trial.
Today's landmark decision stated: "This Court finds that if a juror makes statements evincing ethnic or religious bias or prejudice during jury deliberations, the parties are deprived of their right to a fair and impartial jury and equal protection of the law. Accordingly, the trial court should have held a hearing to determine whether the alleged anti-Semitic comments were made."
"We are thrilled that Dr. Pepose will have another chance to defend – and do so with a truly fair and impartial jury." said David Grebler, who Chairs ADL's Regional Advisory Board, "Though this case concerned alleged anti-Semitism, the Court's decision applies to cases involving bias or prejudice of any kind."
ADL Regional Director Karen Aroesty echoed the sentiment: "The impact of this opinion cannot be underestimated. The case should be an alert to all trial attorneys that juror prejudice is a serious concern that can jeopardize a trial."