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."

The Anti-Defamation League was founded in 1913 to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all. Today it is the world’s leading organization combating anti-Semitism, exposing hate groups, training law enforcement on hate crimes, developing anti-bias education programs for students, countering cyber-hate and relentlessly pursuing equal rights for all.

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