As someone in the United States accused of a criminal act, you have certain rights. One of the most important rights for a criminal defendant is the right to a trial by jury. A jury of your unbiased peers makes a decision based on the evidence presented in court and delivers the verdict.
Having a neutral jury is key to a fair outcome in a trial, which is why jury selection processes are so involved. They’re designed to weed out people who hold certain biases that cannot be set aside.
Unfortunately, not everyone who serves on a jury is unbiased. Some people might intentionally misrepresent themselves in order to serve on a jury when they have a personal history or beliefs that influence their decisions. Others may allow themselves to be influenced by what they hear on the news or what other people say to them about the trial.
Can you appeal a conviction if a juror turns out to have been very biased?
In order for a jury to make a reasonable decision about whether the evidence supports someone’s guilt or not in a criminal case, they need to set aside their preconceived notions about the people involved and the crime. Those with direct personal ties to the situation and those who have been victims of a similar crime may not be able to stay neutral and reach a rational decision. They might influence the decisions of other members of the jury as well.
If you discover after a criminal conviction that someone on the jury misrepresented their background or personal connection to the case, that discovery could help you file an appeal. Appeals based on jury bias have successfully helped individuals overturn convictions or severe penalties, like the death penalty.
Getting help with an appeal, especially if your defense attorney failed to notice a conflict of interest or bias in a potential juror, can increase your chances of success.