The constitutional right to an implicit bias jury instruction

Date01 April 2022
Author
THE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO AN IMPLICIT BIAS JURY
INSTRUCTION
Colin Miller*
ABSTRACT
The Supreme Court has gone to great lengths to prevent jurors from holding
defendants’ silence against them. In a trilogy of opinions, the Court concluded
that when a defendant refrains from testifying, (1) the prosecutor and judge can-
not make adverse comments about that decision; (2) the judge can give a no
adverse inferenceinstruction even over a defense objection; and (3) the judge
must give a no adverse inference instruction upon a defense request.
Conversely, the Court has never ruled that jurors can impeach their verdict
based upon jurors holding a defendant’s silence against him, and lower courts
have ruled against recognizing such a right to jury impeachment.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has addressed the issue of juror racial bias in
reverse. In 2017, the Court ruled in Pena-Rodriguez v. Colorado that jurors must
be allowed to impeach their verdict based on jurors holding a defendant’s race
against him. But the Court has never held that there is a right to an implicit bias
jury instruction, and no lower court has ever recognized such a right.
In Pena-Rodriguez, however, the Supreme Court recognized that the right to
an impartial jury not only addresses unique historical, constitutional, and insti-
tutional concerns,but also requires [a] constitutional rule.Specifically, the
Pena-Rodriguez Court concluded that [a] constitutional rule that racial bias in
the justice system must be addressedincluding, in some instances, after the ver-
dict has been enteredis necessary to prevent a systemic loss of confidence in
jury verdicts, a confidence that is a central premise of the Sixth Amendment trial
right.
This Article contends that this rule must go further and address juror racial
bias on both the back end and the front end. For the same reasons that the
Supreme Court created the right to a jury instruction that jurors must not hold a
defendant’s silence against him, it should recognize the constitutional right to a
jury instruction that jurors must not hold a defendant’s race against him.
INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 351
I. THE SIXTH AMENDMENT RIGHT TO AN IMPARTIAL JURY AND THE IMPLICIT
BIAS INSTRUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 352
* Associate Dean for Faculty Development, Professor of Law, and Thomas H. Pope Professorship in Trial
Advocacy, University of South Carolina School of Law; co-creator and co-host, Undisclosed podcast; Blog
Editor, EvidenceProf Blog. © 2022, Colin Miller.
349
A. An Introduction to Implicit Bias . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
352
B. The Sixth Amendment Right to an Impartial Jury . . . . . . . . . . 354
C. The Implicit Bias Jury Instruction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 354
1. Different Proposed Formulations of the Implicit Bias
Instruction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 354
2. Courts’ Reluctance to Recognize a Right to an Implicit Bias
Instruction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 356
3. The Sympathy/Prejudice Instruction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 359
D. Conclusion 361
II. THE FIFTH AMENDMENT PRIVILEGE AGAINST SELF-INCRIMINATION AND NO
ADVERSE INFERENCEINSTRUCTIONS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 361
A. Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 361
B. Griffin v. California: Can the Prosecutor or Judge Make
Adverse Comments About the Defendant’s Decision Not to
Testify? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 362
C. Lakeside v. Oregon: Over a Defense Objection, Can the Judge
Instruct Jurors Not to Hold the Defendant’s Refusal to Testify
Against Him? 363
D. Carter v. Kentucky: Upon Request, Does a Judge Have to Issue
a No Adverse InferenceInstruction? 364
E. Conclusion 366
III. THE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO AN IMPLICIT BIAS JURY INSTRUCTION . . . 366
A. Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 366
B. Pena-Rodriguez v. Colorado . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 366
1. Pena-Rodriguez and the Elevation of the Sixth Amendment
Right to an Impartial Jury . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 367
a. Rule 606(b)(1) and the General Prohibition on Jury
Impeachment 367
b. Rule 606(b)(2) and the Exceptions to the Anti-Jury
Impeachment Rule 367
c. Tanner and the Sixth Amendment Right to a
Competent Jury 368
d. Lower Court Extensions of Tanner 369
e. Pena-Rodriguez and the Elevation of the Sixth
Amendment Right to an Impartial Jury 370
C. In Recognizing the Right to a No Adverse Inference
Instruction, the Supreme Court Rejected the Arguments Made
Against an Implicit Bias Instruction 372
1. No Constitutional Obligation to Give the Instruction . . . . 372
2. The Sufficiency of Existing Jury Instructions . . . . . . . . . . 374
3. The Lakeside Court’s Rejection of Two Assumptions About
Jury Conduct . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 375
350 AMERICAN CRIMINAL LAW REVIEW [Vol. 59:349
a. Assumptions About Jury Conduct Related to
Defendants Not Testifying 376
i. Do Jurors Notice and Hold Defendants’
Decisions Not to Testify Against Them? 376
ii. Does the No Adverse InferenceInstruction
Help or Hurt Defendants? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 378
b. Assumptions About Jury Conduct Related to Implicit
Bias . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 379
i. Do Jurors Notice and Hold Race Against
Defendants? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 379
ii. Do Implicit Bias Jury Instructions Help or Hurt
Defendants? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 382
(a) The Sympathy/Prejudice Instruction
Experiment 382
(b) The Implicit Bias Instruction Experiment 385
D. The Possibility of a More Limited Right to an Implicit Bias Jury
Instruction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 386
1. Ham v. South Carolina and the Due Process Right to
Special Voir Dire Questioning Regarding Racial Bias 386
2. Ristaino v. Ross and the Inextricably BoundTest . . . . . 388
3. Turner v. Murray and Interracial Capital Cases . . . . . . . . 389
CONCLUSION 390
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . .
. . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
INTRODUCTION
Imagine you are a public defender representing a Black man who does not tes-
tify at his trial for allegedly sexually assaulting a white woman.
1
These facts are drawn from the case of Ronnie Long, which the author investigated for the Undisclosed
podcast. See State v. Ronnie Long, Episode 1: Brilliant Disguise, UNDISCLOSED (March 12, 2018), https://
undisclosed-podcast.com/episodes/ronnie-long/episode-1.html. In 1976, Long, a Black man, was convicted of
sexually assaulting a white woman by an all-white jury in Concord, North Carolina. In 2020, he was exonerated.
See Ken Otterbourg, Ronnie Long, NATL REGISTRY EXONERATIONS (last updated May 4, 2021), https://www.
law.umich.edu/special/exoneration/Pages/casedetail.aspx?caseid=5801.
Which do you
fear more: (1) that the jury will draw adverse inferences from your client’s decision
not to testify, or (2) that the jury will draw adverse inferences from your client’s
race? If you chose option two, your fear does not align with the Supreme Court’s
precedent regarding jury instructions on adverse inferences. While the Court has
held that a defendant has the right to an instruction ordering jurors to avoid draw-
ing adverse inferences from the defendant’s silence, the vast majority of courts
have held that a defendant does not have the right to an instruction advising jurors
to avoid drawing adverse inferences based on the defendant’s race.
Conversely, imagine you are a judge hearing an appeal based upon jury miscon-
duct after the Black man is convicted of sexual assault. Which allegation do you
1.
2022] THE RIGHT TO AN IMPLICIT BIAS JURY INSTRUCTION 351

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT