Colorado cases gone national: A baker who refuses gay people and a juror who said an awful thing about Mexican men

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photo
Inside the U.S. Supreme Court. (Phil Roeder/Flickr)

Inside the U.S. Supreme Court. (Phil Roeder/Flickr)

Two Colorado cases loom large for the U.S. Supreme Court this fall.

The justices return to the courtroom this week. They’re still deciding which cases they’ll hear this fall, and two lawsuits that began in Colorado are under consideration, The New York Times reports.

In the first lawsuit, the question is whether a juror’s racist/nationalist statement should change a 2010 sexual assault trial. Two jurors reported that another member of their jury believed that the defendant was guilty because “Mexican men take whatever they want.”

The defendant, Miguel Angel Peña Rodriguez, was convicted of three misdemeanors and then appealed the conviction on the grounds that the juror in question was biased. (The right to an “impartial jury” is in the Sixth Amendment.)

The Colorado Supreme Court said that Peña Rodriguez should not get another trial because the juror’s comments were supposed to be secret. If the U.S. Supreme Court does take up the case, it will essentially be weighing that balance of secrecy vs. impartiality. If not, the convictions will remain.

The second potential case is about whether a Colorado business, Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, should be allowed to deny services to a same-sex couple on the grounds that owner Jack Phillips believes that it would “displease God.”

The Colorado Supreme Court declined to hear the case. If the U.S. Supreme Court also doesn’t want to hear it, then Phillips loses, as most bakers with similar cases have.

 

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