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Conservative Justices Vote To Hear Death Penalty Case Involving Juror

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas berated a federal appeals court in a dissenting opinion on Monday for giving a death row inmate room to challenge his conviction based on a biased juror. Joined by Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch, Thomas said the U.S. Court of Appeals for the the Sixth Circuit has flouted high court precedent by continually granting relief to death row prisoners in violation of the law, reports Courthouse News Service. Thomas’ dissent came in a dispute over jurors who convicted Jeronique Cunningham of murdering three people — including a 3-year-old girl — in a drug deal gone wrong.

A jury convicted Cunningham of aggravated murder, attempted murder and aggravated robbery, and sentenced him to death. His convictions were affirmed by the Ohio Supreme Court. Cunningham challenged his conviction based on the perceived bias of the jury foreperson. An investigator working with his half-brother’s trial team interviewed several jurors and found that the foreperson thought he was an evil person and knew of his history with social workers who were afraid of him. Cunningham claims the juror had worked at Allen County Children Services and was able to obtain prejudicial information about him from her colleagues. hTe Sixth Circuit revived the case in a divided opinion. Ohio went to the high court, but the majority of justices declined Monday to hear the case. Thomas wrote that the Sixth Circuit made clear errors and Cunningham’s juror bias claims should not have been entertained.


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A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

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