ADL Hails Missouri Supreme Court Decision On Juror Bias

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."

ADL is the world’s leading anti-hate organization. Founded in 1913 in response to an escalating climate of anti-Semitism and bigotry, its timeless mission is to protect the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment for all. Today, ADL continues to fight all forms of hate with the same vigor and passion. A global leader in exposing extremism, delivering anti-bias education, and fighting hate online, ADL is the first call when acts of anti-Semitism occur. ADL’s ultimate goal is a world in which no group or individual suffers from bias, discrimination or hate.

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