Voir Dire on LGBT Bias

June 19, 2018

Before potential jurors can be selected for a trial, a question-and-answer process known as “voir dire” is used to test whether they can be impartial, unbiased, and don’t have any conflicts of interest. 

In Wayne County, Jeffrey Six was put on trial for criminal financial fraud. As part of his defense he alleged that his former domestic partner, a man, was the one who actually engaged in the fraudulent transaction. Because this defense would require jurors to learn that he is gay, his attorneys requested that the jury voir dire include an inquiry into the jurors’ attitudes regarding gay relationships. The judge denied the request and Mr. Six was convicted. 

In June 2018, we joined Lambda Legal in filing a friend-of-the-court brief in the Michigan Court of Appeals arguing that the right to a fair trial and an impartial jury requires voir dire regarding anti-gay bias when the fact of an LGBT relationship is inextricably bound up with the issues to be decided at trial. 

(People v. Six; ACLU Attorney Jay Kaplan; Ethan Rice, Richard Saenz, and Max Isaacs of Lambda Legal.)

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