In an opinion rendered this week-Pena-Rodriguez v. Colorado-the Supreme Court carved out an important exception to a longstanding rule prohibiting jurors from being questioned about conduct during deliberations after a verdict has been rendered. The case involved a Colorado man who was convicted for sexually assaulting two teenage girls. The jury returned a verdict against him. After the trial, two jurors approached Mr. Pena-Rodriguez's criminal defense attorney and expressed concerns about another juror's racial comments during deliberations. Specifically, the juror went into a lengthy tirade about Mr. Pena-Rodriguez's Hispanic heritage, noting that he "believed the defendant was guilty because, in [the juror's] experience as an ex-law enforcement officer, Mexican men had a bravado that caused them to believe they could do whatever they wanted with women."
Last week, the Florida Supreme Court issued an opinion clarifying the types of firearms convicted felons may possess. Section 790.23 of the Florida Statutes prohibits convicted felons from possessing firearms. However, the law also exempts any firearm manufactured before 1918, or replicas of pre-1918 firearms. Weeks v. State involved a case against a convicted felon who hunted with a .50 caliber muzzle-loaded rifle. Weeks' rifle largely copied a pre-1918 firearm, but used a modern scope.
Early Jail and Prison Conditions Litigation in the Middle District of Florida Today jails and prisons throughout the Middle District of Florida are hardly places a person would want to spend the night. However, those currently incarcerated in the Middle District of Florida ("Middle District") have had many rights secured for them which did not exist prior to the existence of the Middle District. The story of prison reform in the Middle District illustrates the power hardworking, courageous pro se plaintiffs, attorneys, and judges can wield to ensure all inmates receive the constitutional liberties and protections to which they are entitled.