throbber

`(Slip Opinion)
`
`
`
` OCTOBER TERM, 2016
`
`
`Syllabus
`
`1
`
` NOTE: Where it is feasible, a syllabus (headnote) will be released, as is
`
`
`
` being done in connection with this case, at the time the opinion is issued.
`
`
`
` The syllabus constitutes no part of the opinion of the Court but has been
`
` prepared by the Reporter of Decisions for the convenience of the reader.
`
` See United States v. Detroit Timber & Lumber Co., 200 U. S. 321, 337.
`
`
`SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
`
`
`
` Syllabus
`
`PENA-RODRIGUEZ v. COLORADO
`
`CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF COLORADO
` No. 15–606. Argued October 11, 2016—Decided March 6, 2017
`
`A Colorado jury convicted petitioner Peña-Rodriguez of harassment and
`unlawful sexual contact. Following the discharge of the jury, two ju­
`rors told defense counsel that, during deliberations, Juror H. C. had
`
`expressed anti-Hispanic bias toward petitioner and petitioner’s alibi
`witness. Counsel, with the trial court’s supervision, obtained affida­
`vits from the two jurors describing a number of biased statements by
`H. C. The court acknowledged H. C.’s apparent bias but denied peti­
`tioner’s motion for a new trial on the ground that Colorado Rule of
`
`Evidence 606(b) generally prohibits a juror from testifying as to
`statements made during deliberations in a proceeding inquiring into
`the validity of the verdict. The Colorado Court of Appeals affirmed,
`agreeing that H. C.’s alleged statements did not fall within an excep­
`tion to Rule 606(b). The Colorado Supreme Court also affirmed, rely­
`ing on Tanner v. United States, 483 U. S. 107, and Warger v. Shauers,
`
`574 U. S. ___, both of which rejected constitutional challenges to the
`
`federal no-impeachment rule as applied to evidence of juror miscon­
`
`duct or bias.
`
`Held: Where a juror makes a clear statement indicating that he or she
`relied on racial stereotypes or animus to convict a criminal defend­
`ant, the Sixth Amendment requires that the no-impeachment rule
`
`give way in order to permit the trial court to consider the evidence of
`the juror’s statement and any resulting denial of the jury trial guar­
`
`antee. Pp. 6–21.
`
`(a) At common law jurors were forbidden to impeach their verdict,
`either by affidavit or live testimony. Some American jurisdictions
`adopted a more flexible version of the no-impeachment bar, known as
`the “Iowa rule,” which prevented jurors from testifying only about
`their own subjective beliefs, thoughts, or motives during delibera­
`tions. An alternative approach, later referred to as the federal ap­
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`

`

`
`
`2
`
`
`
`
`
`
`PENA-RODRIGUEZ v. COLORADO
`
`
`Syllabus
`proach, permitted an exception only for events extraneous to the de­
`liberative process. This Court’s early decisions did not establish a
`clear preference for a particular version of the no-impeachment rule,
`appearing open to the Iowa rule in United States v. Reid, 12 How.
`361, and Mattox v. United States, 146 U. S. 140, but rejecting that
`
`
`approach in McDonald v. Pless, 238 U. S. 264.
`
`
`The common-law development of the rule reached a milestone in
`
`
`1975 when Congress adopted Federal Rule of Evidence 606(b), which
`
`sets out a broad no-impeachment rule, with only limited exceptions.
`This version of the no-impeachment rule has substantial merit, pro­
`moting full and vigorous discussion by jurors and providing consider­
`able assurance that after being discharged they will not be sum­
`
`
`moned to recount their deliberations or otherwise harassed. The rule
`
`gives stability and finality to verdicts. Pp. 6–9.
`
`(b) Some version of the no-impeachment rule is followed in every
`State and the District of Columbia, most of which follow the Federal
`Rule. At least 16 jurisdictions have recognized an exception for juror
`testimony about racial bias in deliberations. Three Federal Courts of
`
`
`Appeals have also held or suggested there is a constitutional excep­
`tion for evidence of racial bias.
`
`In addressing the common-law no-impeachment rule, this Court
`noted the possibility of an exception in the “gravest and most im­
`
`
`portant cases.” United States v. Reid, supra, at 366; McDonald v.
`
`Pless, supra, at 269. The Court has addressed the question whether
`
`the Constitution mandates an exception to Rule 606(b) just twice, re­
`
`jecting an exception each time. In Tanner, where the evidence
`showed that some jurors were under the influence of drugs and alco­
`hol during the trial, the Court identified “long-recognized and very
`substantial concerns” supporting the no-impeachment rule. 483
`
`U. S., at 127. The Court also outlined existing, significant safeguards
`for the defendant’s right to an impartial and competent jury beyond
`
`post-trial juror testimony: members of the venire can be examined for
`impartiality during voir dire; juror misconduct may be observed the
`court, counsel, and court personnel during the trial; and jurors them­
`selves can report misconduct to the court before a verdict is rendered.
`
`
`In Warger, a civil case where the evidence indicated that the jury
`forewoman failed to disclose a prodefendant bias during voir dire, the
`Court again put substantial reliance on existing safeguards for a fair
`trial. But the Court also warned, as in Reid and McDonald, that the
`no-impeachment rule may admit of exceptions for “juror bias so ex­
`
`treme that, almost by definition, the jury trial right has been
`abridged.” 574 U. S., at ___–___, n. 3. Reid, McDonald, and Warger
`left open the question here: whether the Constitution requires an ex­
`
`ception to the no-impeachment rule when a juror’s statements indi­
`
`
`
`
`
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`
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`

`

`
`
`3
`
`
`Cite as: 580 U. S. ____ (2017)
`
`
`Syllabus
`cate that racial animus was a significant motivating factor in his or
`her finding of guilt. Pp. 9–13.
`
`(c) The imperative to purge racial prejudice from the administra­
`tion of justice was given new force and direction by the ratification of
`the Civil War Amendments. “[T]he central purpose of the Fourteenth
`Amendment was to eliminate racial discrimination emanating from
`official sources in the States.” McLaughlin v. Florida, 379 U. S. 184,
`192. Time and again, this Court has enforced the Constitution’s
`guarantee against state-sponsored racial discrimination in the jury
`system. The Court has interpreted the Fourteenth Amendment to
`prohibit the exclusion of jurors based on race, Strauder v. West Vir-
`ginia, 100 U. S. 303, 305–309; struck down laws and practices that
`
`
`
`systematically exclude racial minorities from juries, see, e.g., Neal v.
`Delaware, 103 U. S. 370; ruled that no litigant may exclude a pro­
`
`spective juror based on race, see, e.g., Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U. S.
`79; and held that defendants may at times be entitled to ask about
`racial bias during voir dire, see, e.g., Ham v. South Carolina, 409
`U. S. 524. The unmistakable principle of these precedents is that
`
`discrimination on the basis of race, “odious in all aspects, is especially
`pernicious in the administration of justice,” Rose v. Mitchell, 443
`U. S. 545, 555, damaging “both the fact and the perception” of the ju­
`ry’s role as “a vital check against the wrongful exercise of power by
`
`
`the State,” Powers v. Ohio, 499 U. S. 400, 411. Pp. 13–15.
`
`(d) This case lies at the intersection of the Court’s decisions endors­
`
`ing the no-impeachment rule and those seeking to eliminate racial
`
`bias in the jury system. Those lines of precedent need not conflict.
`Racial bias, unlike the behavior in McDonald, Tanner, or Warger,
`implicates unique historical, constitutional, and institutional con­
`cerns and, if left unaddressed, would risk systemic injury to the ad­
`
`
`ministration of justice. It is also distinct in a pragmatic sense, for the
`
`Tanner safeguards may be less effective in rooting out racial bias.
`But while all forms of improper bias pose challenges to the trial pro­
`
`cess, there is a sound basis to treat racial bias with added precaution.
`
`A constitutional rule that racial bias in the justice system must be
`addressed—including, in some instances, after a verdict has been en­
`
`
`
`tered—is necessary to prevent a systemic loss of confidence in jury
`
`verdicts, a confidence that is a central premise of the Sixth Amend­
`ment trial right. Pp. 15–17.
`
`(e) Before the no-impeachment bar can be set aside to allow further
`judicial inquiry, there must be a threshold showing that one or more
`jurors made statements exhibiting overt racial bias that cast serious
`doubt on the fairness and impartiality of the jury’s deliberations and
`
`
`resulting verdict. To qualify, the statement must tend to show that
`
`
`racial animus was a significant motivating factor in the juror’s vote
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`

`

`4
`
`
`PENA-RODRIGUEZ v. COLORADO
`
`
`Syllabus
`to convict. Whether the threshold showing has been satisfied is
`committed to the substantial discretion of the trial court in light of all
`the circumstances, including the content and timing of the alleged
`statements and the reliability of the proffered evidence.
`
`The practical mechanics of acquiring and presenting such evidence
`will no doubt be shaped and guided by state rules of professional eth­
`ics and local court rules, both of which often limit counsel’s post-trial
`contact with jurors. The experience of those jurisdictions that have
`already recognized a racial-bias exception to the no-impeachment
`rule, and the experience of courts going forward, will inform the
`
`proper exercise of trial judge discretion. The Court need not address
`
`what procedures a trial court must follow when confronted with a
`motion for a new trial based on juror testimony of racial bias or the
`appropriate standard for determining when such evidence is suffi­
`cient to require that the verdict be set aside and a new trial be grant­
`
`ed. Standard and existing safeguards may also help prevent racial
`
`bias in jury deliberations, including careful voir dire and a trial
`
`court’s instructions to jurors about their duty to review the evidence,
`
`deliberate together, and reach a verdict in a fair and impartial way,
`free from bias of any kind. Pp. 17–21.
`350 P. 3d 287, reversed and remanded.
`KENNEDY, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which GINSBURG,
`
`
`
`BREYER, SOTOMAYOR, and KAGAN, JJ., joined. THOMAS, J., filed a dis­
`
`
`
`
`senting opinion. ALITO, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which ROBERTS,
`
`
`
`C. J., and THOMAS, J., joined.
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`

`

`
`
`
`
` Cite as: 580 U. S. ____ (2017)
`
`Opinion of the Court
`
`1
`
`
` NOTICE: This opinion is subject to formal revision before publication in the
`
`
`
` preliminary print of the United States Reports. Readers are requested to
`
` notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Court of the United States, Wash­
`
` ington, D. C. 20543, of any typographical or other formal errors, in order
`
`
` that corrections may be made before the preliminary print goes to press.
`
`
`
`
`SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
`
`
`
`_________________
`
` No. 15–606
`_________________
` MIGUEL ANGEL PENA-RODRIGUEZ, PETITIONER v.
`COLORADO
`ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF
`
`
`COLORADO
`
`[March 6, 2017]
`
`JUSTICE KENNEDY delivered the opinion of the Court.
`The jury is a central foundation of our justice system
`
`and our democracy. Whatever its imperfections in a par­
`ticular case, the jury is a necessary check on governmental
`power. The jury, over the centuries, has been an inspired,
`
`trusted, and effective instrument for resolving factual
`disputes and determining ultimate questions of guilt or
`innocence in criminal cases. Over the long course its
`judgments find acceptance in the community, an ac­
`ceptance essential to respect for the rule of law. The jury
`is a tangible implementation of the principle that the law
`comes from the people.
`
`In the era of our Nation’s founding, the right to a jury
`
`trial already had existed and evolved for centuries,
`through and alongside the common law. The jury was
`considered a fundamental safeguard of individual liberty.
`See The Federalist No. 83, p. 451 (B. Warner ed. 1818) (A.
`Hamilton). The right to a jury trial in criminal cases was
`
`part of the Constitution as first drawn, and it was restated
`
`in the Sixth Amendment. Art. III, §2, cl. 3; Amdt. 6. By
`operation of the Fourteenth Amendment, it is applicable to
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`

`

`
`
`PENA-RODRIGUEZ v. COLORADO
`
`Opinion of the Court
` the States. Duncan v. Louisiana, 391 U. S. 145, 149–150
`(1968).
`Like all human institutions, the jury system has its
`
`flaws, yet experience shows that fair and impartial ver­
`dicts can be reached if the jury follows the court’s instruc­
`tions and undertakes deliberations that are honest, can­
`did, robust, and based on common sense. A general rule
`has evolved to give substantial protection to verdict final­
`ity and to assure jurors that, once their verdict has been
`entered, it will not later be called into question based on
`the comments or conclusions they expressed during delib­
`erations. This principle, itself centuries old, is often re­
`
`ferred to as the no-impeachment rule. The instant case
`presents the question whether there is an exception to the
`no-impeachment rule when, after the jury is discharged, a
`juror comes forward with compelling evidence that an-
`other juror made clear and explicit statements indicating
`that racial animus was a significant motivating factor in
`his or her vote to convict.
`
`
`
`
`
`
`2
`
`
`I
`State prosecutors in Colorado brought criminal charges
`
`against petitioner, Miguel Angel Peña-Rodriguez, based on
`the following allegations. In 2007, in the bathroom of a
`Colorado horse-racing facility, a man sexually assaulted
`two teenage sisters. The girls told their father and identi­
`fied the man as an employee of the racetrack. The police
`located and arrested petitioner. Each girl separately
`identified petitioner as the man who had assaulted her.
`The State charged petitioner with harassment, unlawful
`
`sexual contact, and attempted sexual assault on a child.
`
`Before the jury was empaneled, members of the venire
`were repeatedly asked whether they believed that they
`could be fair and impartial in the case. A written ques­
`tionnaire asked if there was “anything about you that you
`feel would make it difficult for you to be a fair juror.” App.
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`

`

`
`
` Cite as: 580 U. S. ____ (2017)
`
`Opinion of the Court
`14. The court repeated the question to the panel of pro­
`spective jurors and encouraged jurors to speak in private
`with the court if they had any concerns about their impar­
`tiality. Defense counsel likewise asked whether anyone
`felt that “this is simply not a good case” for them to be a
`
`fair juror. Id., at 34. None of the empaneled jurors ex­
`
`
`pressed any reservations based on racial or any other bias.
`
`And none asked to speak with the trial judge.
`
`
`After a 3-day trial, the jury found petitioner guilty of
`unlawful sexual contact and harassment, but it failed to
`
`reach a verdict on the attempted sexual assault charge.
`When the jury was discharged, the court gave them this
`instruction, as mandated by Colorado law:
`“The question may arise whether you may now dis­
`
`cuss this case with the lawyers, defendant, or other
`persons. For your guidance the court instructs you
`that whether you talk to anyone is entirely your own
`
`decision. . . . If any person persists in discussing the
`
`case over your objection, or becomes critical of your
`service either before or after any discussion has be­
`gun, please report it to me.” Id., at 85–86.
`
`Following the discharge of the jury, petitioner’s counsel
`entered the jury room to discuss the trial with the jurors.
`As the room was emptying, two jurors remained to speak
`with counsel in private. They stated that, during delibera­
`tions, another juror had expressed anti-Hispanic bias
`toward petitioner and petitioner’s alibi witness. Petition­
`
`er’s counsel reported this to the court and, with the court’s
`supervision, obtained sworn affidavits from the two jurors.
`
`The affidavits by the two jurors described a number of
`biased statements made by another juror, identified as
`Juror H. C. According to the two jurors, H. C. told the
`other jurors that he “believed the defendant was guilty
`because, in [H. C.’s] experience as an ex-law enforcement
`officer, Mexican men had a bravado that caused them to
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`3
`
`
`
`

`

`4
`
`
`PENA-RODRIGUEZ v. COLORADO
`
`Opinion of the Court
`believe they could do whatever they wanted with women.”
`
`Id., at 110. The jurors reported that H. C. stated his belief
`that Mexican men are physically controlling of women
`
`because of their sense of entitlement, and further stated,
`
`“‘I think he did it because he’s Mexican and Mexican men
`take whatever they want.’” Id., at 109. According to the
`
`jurors, H. C. further explained that, in his experience,
`“nine times out of ten Mexican men were guilty of being
`
`aggressive toward women and young girls.” Id., at 110.
`
`Finally, the jurors recounted that Juror H. C. said that he
`did not find petitioner’s alibi witness credible because,
`
`among other things, the witness was “ ‘an illegal.’” Ibid.
`(In fact, the witness testified during trial that he was a
`legal resident of the United States.)
`
`After reviewing the affidavits, the trial court acknowl­
`edged H. C.’s apparent bias. But the court denied peti­
`tioner’s motion for a new trial, noting that “[t]he actual
`deliberations that occur among the jurors are protected
`from inquiry under [Colorado Rule of Evidence] 606(b).”
`Id., at 90. Like its federal counterpart, Colorado’s Rule
`606(b) generally prohibits a juror from testifying as to any
`statement made during deliberations in a proceeding
`inquiring into the validity of the verdict. See Fed. Rule
`Evid. 606(b). The Colorado Rule reads as follows:
`“(b) Inquiry into validity of verdict or indictment.
`Upon an inquiry into the validity of a verdict or indict­
`ment, a juror may not testify as to any matter or
`statement occurring during the course of the jury’s de­
`liberations or to the effect of anything upon his or any
`other juror’s mind or emotions as influencing him to
`assent to or dissent from the verdict or indictment or
`concerning his mental processes in connection there­
`with. But a juror may testify about (1) whether ex­
`traneous prejudicial
`information was
`improperly
`brought to the jurors’ attention, (2) whether any out­
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
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`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`

`

`
`
`
`
` Cite as: 580 U. S. ____ (2017)
`
`Opinion of the Court
`side influence was improperly brought to bear upon
`any juror, or (3) whether there was a mistake in en­
`tering the verdict onto the verdict form. A juror’s affi­
`davit or evidence of any statement by the juror may
`not be received on a matter about which the juror
`would be precluded from testifying.” Colo. Rule Evid.
`606(b) (2016).
`
`The verdict deemed final, petitioner was sentenced to
`two years’ probation and was required to register as a sex
`offender. A divided panel of the Colorado Court of Appeals
`affirmed petitioner’s conviction, agreeing that H. C.’s
`alleged statements did not fall within an exception to Rule
`606(b) and so were inadmissible to undermine the validity
`of the verdict. ___ P. 3d ___, 2012 WL 5457362.
`
`
`
`The Colorado Supreme Court affirmed by a vote of 4 to
`3. 350 P. 3d 287 (2015). The prevailing opinion relied on
`two decisions of this Court rejecting constitutional chal­
`lenges to the federal no-impeachment rule as applied to
`evidence of juror misconduct or bias. See Tanner v. United
`States, 483 U. S. 107 (1987); Warger v. Shauers, 574 U. S.
`___ (2014). After reviewing those precedents, the court
`could find no “dividing line between different types of juror
`
`bias or misconduct,” and thus no basis for permitting
`impeachment of the verdicts in petitioner’s trial, notwith­
`
`
`standing H. C.’s apparent racial bias. 350 P. 3d, at 293.
`
`This Court granted certiorari to decide whether there is a
`constitutional exception to the no-impeachment rule for
`
`instances of racial bias. 578 U. S. ___ (2016).
`
`Juror H. C.’s bias was based on petitioner’s Hispanic
`identity, which the Court in prior cases has referred to as
`ethnicity, and that may be an instructive term here. See,
`e.g., Hernandez v. New York, 500 U. S. 352, 355 (1991)
`
`(plurality opinion). Yet we have also used the language of
`race when discussing the relevant constitutional principles
`
`
`in cases involving Hispanic persons. See, e.g., ibid.; Fisher
`
`5
`
`
`
`

`

`PENA-RODRIGUEZ v. COLORADO
`
`Opinion of the Court
`v. University of Tex. at Austin, 570 U. S. ___ (2013);
`Rosales-Lopez v. United States, 451 U. S. 182, 189–190
`(1981) (plurality opinion). Petitioner and respondent both
`refer to race, or to race and ethnicity, in this more expan­
`sive sense in their briefs to the Court. This opinion refers
`to the nature of the bias as racial in keeping with the
`primary terminology employed by the parties and used in
`our precedents.
`
`
`
`6
`
`
`
`II
`
`A
`
`
`At common law jurors were forbidden to impeach their
`verdict, either by affidavit or live testimony. This rule
`originated in Vaise v. Delaval, 1 T. R. 11, 99 Eng. Rep. 944
`(K. B. 1785). There, Lord Mansfield excluded juror testi­
`mony that the jury had decided the case through a game of
`chance. The Mansfield rule, as it came to be known, pro­
`hibited jurors, after the verdict was entered, from testify­
`ing either about their subjective mental processes or about
`
`objective events that occurred during deliberations.
`
`American courts adopted the Mansfield rule as a matter
`
`of common law, though not in every detail. Some jurisdic­
`tions adopted a different, more flexible version of the no-
`impeachment bar known as the “Iowa rule.” Under that
`rule, jurors were prevented only from testifying about
`their own subjective beliefs, thoughts, or motives during
`deliberations. See Wright v. Illinois & Miss. Tel. Co., 20
`Iowa 195 (1866). Jurors could, however, testify about
`objective facts and events occurring during deliberations,
`
`in part because other jurors could corroborate that
`testimony.
`
`An alternative approach, later referred to as the federal
`approach, stayed closer to the original Mansfield rule. See
`Warger, supra, at ___ (slip op., at 5). Under this version of
`
`the rule, the no-impeachment bar permitted an exception
`only for testimony about events extraneous to the deliber­
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`

`

`
`
`7
`
`
`
` Cite as: 580 U. S. ____ (2017)
`
`Opinion of the Court
`ative process, such as reliance on outside evidence—
`newspapers, dictionaries, and the like—or personal inves­
`tigation of the facts.
`This Court’s early decisions did not establish a clear
`
`preference for a particular version of the no-impeachment
`
`rule. In United States v. Reid, 12 How. 361 (1852), the
`
`
`Court appeared open to the admission of juror testimony
`that the jurors had consulted newspapers during delibera­
`tions, but in the end it barred the evidence because the
`
`newspapers “had not the slightest influence” on the ver­
`dict. Id., at 366. The Reid Court warned that juror testi­
`mony “ought always to be received with great caution.”
`
`
`Ibid. Yet it added an important admonition: “cases might
`arise in which it would be impossible to refuse” juror
`testimony “without violating the plainest principles of
`justice.” Ibid.
`
`In a following case the Court required the admission of
`
`
`juror affidavits stating that the jury consulted information
`that was not in evidence, including a prejudicial news-
`paper article. Mattox v. United States, 146 U. S. 140, 151
`
`(1892). The Court suggested, furthermore, that the ad­
`mission of juror testimony might be governed by a more
`flexible rule, one permitting jury testimony even where it
`did not involve consultation of prejudicial extraneous
`information.
`Id., at 148–149; see also Hyde v. United
`
`States, 225 U. S. 347, 382–384 (1912) (stating that the
`more flexible Iowa rule “should apply,” but excluding
`evidence that the jury reached the verdict by trading
`certain defendants’ acquittals for others’ convictions).
`Later, however, the Court rejected the more lenient
`
`Iowa rule. In McDonald v. Pless, 238 U. S. 264 (1915), the
`Court affirmed the exclusion of juror testimony about
`
`objective events in the jury room. There, the jury allegedly
`had calculated a damages award by averaging the
`numerical submissions of each member. Id., at 265–266.
`As the Court explained, admitting that evidence would
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`

`

`PENA-RODRIGUEZ v. COLORADO
`
`Opinion of the Court
`have “dangerous consequences”: “no verdict would be safe”
`and the practice would “open the door to the most perni­
`cious arts and tampering with jurors.” Id., at 268 (inter­
`nal quotation marks omitted). Yet the Court reiterated its
`admonition from Reid, again cautioning that the no-
`impeachment rule might recognize exceptions “in the
`gravest and most important cases” where exclusion of
`juror affidavits might well violate “the plainest principles
`of justice.” 238 U. S., at 269 (quoting Reid, supra, at 366;
`internal quotation marks omitted).
`The common-law development of the no-impeachment
`
`
`rule reached a milestone in 1975, when Congress adopted
`the Federal Rules of Evidence, including Rule 606(b).
`Congress, like the McDonald Court, rejected the Iowa
`
`rule. Instead it endorsed a broad no-impeachment rule,
`with only limited exceptions.
`The version of the rule that Congress adopted was “no
`
`accident.” Warger, 574 U. S., at ___ (slip op., at 7). The
`Advisory Committee at first drafted a rule reflecting the
`Iowa approach, prohibiting admission of juror testimony
`only as it related to jurors’ mental processes in reaching a
`
`verdict. The Department of Justice, however, expressed
`concern over the preliminary rule. The Advisory Commit­
`tee then drafted the more stringent version now in effect,
`prohibiting all juror testimony, with exceptions only where
`the jury had considered prejudicial extraneous evidence or
`was subject to other outside influence. Rules of Evidence
`for United States Courts and Magistrates, 56 F. R. D. 183,
`265 (1972). The Court adopted this second version and
`
`transmitted it to Congress.
`The House favored the Iowa approach, but the Senate
`
`expressed concern that it did not sufficiently address the
`public policy interest in the finality of verdicts. S. Rep.
`No. 93–1277, pp. 13–14 (1974). Siding with the Senate,
`the Conference Committee adopted, Congress enacted, and
`
`the President signed the Court’s proposed rule. The sub­
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`8
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`

`
`
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`
`
` Cite as: 580 U. S. ____ (2017)
`
`Opinion of the Court
`stance of the Rule has not changed since 1975, except for a
`2006 modification permitting evidence of a clerical mis­
`take on the verdict form. See 574 U. S., at ___.
`The current version of Rule 606(b) states as follows:
`
`“(1) Prohibited Testimony or Other Evidence. During
`
`an inquiry into the validity of a verdict or indictment,
`a juror may not testify about any statement made or
`incident that occurred during the jury’s deliberations;
`the effect of anything on that juror’s or another juror’s
`vote; or any juror’s mental processes concerning the
`verdict or indictment. The court may not receive a ju­
`
`ror’s affidavit or evidence of a juror’s statement on
`these matters.
`“(2) Exceptions. A juror may testify about whether:
`“(A) extraneous prejudicial information was im­
`properly brought to the jury’s attention;
`“(B) an outside influence was improperly brought to
`bear on any juror; or
`
`“(C) a mistake was made in entering the verdict on
`the verdict form.”
`
`This version of the no-impeachment rule has substantial
`merit. It promotes full and vigorous discussion by provid­
`ing jurors with considerable assurance that after being
`discharged they will not be summoned to recount their
`deliberations, and they will not otherwise be harassed or
`
`annoyed by litigants seeking to challenge the verdict. The
`rule gives stability and finality to verdicts.
`B
`
`Some version of the no-impeachment rule is followed in
`every State and the District of Columbia. Variations
`make classification imprecise, but, as a general matter, it
`appears that 42 jurisdictions follow the Federal Rule,
`while 9 follow the Iowa Rule. Within both classifications
`there is a diversity of approaches. Nine jurisdictions that
`
`9
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`

`

`10
`
`
`PENA-RODRIGUEZ v. COLORADO
`
`Opinion of the Court
`follow the Federal Rule have codified exceptions other
`than those listed in Federal Rule 606(b). See Appendix,
`infra. At least 16 jurisdictions, 11 of which follow the
`Federal Rule, have recognized an exception to the no-
`
`impeachment bar under the circumstances the Court faces
`here: juror testimony that racial bias played a part in
`deliberations. Ibid. According to the parties and amici,
`
`only one State other than Colorado has addressed this
`issue and declined to recognize an exception for racial
`
`bias. See Commonwealth v. Steele, 599 Pa. 341, 377–379,
`961 A. 2d 786, 807–808 (2012).
`
`
`
`The federal courts, for their part, are governed by Fed­
`
`eral Rule 606(b), but their interpretations deserve further
`comment. Various Courts of Appeals have had occasion to
`consider a racial bias exception and have reached different
`conclusions. Three have held or suggested there is a
`constitutional exception for evidence of racial bias. See
`United States v. Villar, 586 F. 3d 76, 87–88 (CA1 2009)
`(holding the Constitution demands a racial-bias excep­
`tion); United States v. Henley, 238 F. 3d 1111, 1119–1121
`(CA9 2001) (finding persuasive arguments in favor of an
`exception but not deciding the issue); Shillcutt v. Gagnon,
`827 F. 2d 1155, 1158–1160 (CA7 1987) (observing that in
`some cases fundamental fairness could require an excep­
`tion). One Court of Appeals has declined to find an excep­
`tion, reasoning that other safeguards inherent in the trial
`process suffice to protect defendants’ constitutional inter­
`ests. See United States v. Benally, 546 F. 3d 1230, 1240–
`1241 (CA10 2008). Another has suggested as much, hold­
`ing in the habeas context that an exception for racial bias
`
`was not clearly established but indicating in dicta that no
`
`such exception exists. See Williams v. Price, 343 F. 3d
`
`223, 237–239 (CA3 2003) (Alito, J.). And one Court of
`Appeals has held that evidence of racial bias is excluded
`by Rule 606(b), without addressing whether the Constitu­
`tion may at times demand an exception. See Martinez v.
`
`
`
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`
`

`

`
`
`
`
` 11
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` Cite as: 580 U. S. ____ (2017)
`
`Opinion of the Court
`Food City, Inc., 658 F. 2d 369, 373–374 (CA5 1981).
`C
`In addressing the scope of the common-law no-
`
`impeachment rule before Rule 606(b)’s adoption, the Reid
`and McDonald Courts noted the possibility of an exception
`to the rule in the “gravest and most important cases.”
`
`Reid, 12 How., at 366; McDonald, 238 U. S., at 269. Yet
`since the enactment of Rule 606(b), the Court has ad­
`dressed the precise question whether the Constitution
`mandates an exception to it in just two instances.
`
`In its first case, Tanner, 483 U. S. 107, the Court rejected
`
`
`a Sixth Amendment exception for evidence that some
`jurors were under the influence of drugs and alcohol dur­
`ing the trial. Id., at 125. Central to the Court’s reasoning
`were the “long-recognized and very substantial concerns”
`supporting “the protection of jury deliberations from in­
`trusive inquiry.” Id., at 127. The Tanner Court echoed
`
`McDonald’s concern that, if attorneys could use juror
`testimony to attack verdicts, jurors would be “harassed
`and beset by the defeated party,” thus destroying “all
`frankness and freedom of discussion and conference.” 483
`
`U. S., at 120 (quoting McDonald, supra, at 267–268). The
`Court was concerned, moreover, that attempts to impeach
`a verdict would “disrupt the finality of the process” and
`undermine both “jurors’ willingness to return an unpopu­
`lar verdict” and “the community’s trust in a system that
`
`relies on the decisions of laypeople.” 483 U. S., at 120–
`
`121.
`The Tanner Court outlined existing, significant safe­
`guards for the defendant’s right to an impartial and com­
`petent jury beyond post-trial juror testimony. At the
`outset of the trial process, voir dire provides an opportun-
`ity for the court and counsel to examine members of the
`venire for impartiality. As a trial proceeds, the court,
`counsel, and court personnel have some opportunity to
`
`
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`

`

`PENA-RODRIGUEZ v. COLORADO
`
`Opinion of the Court
` learn of any juror misconduct. And, before the

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