People of Michigan v. Jeffrey Martin Six

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Status: Open
Michigan Court of Appeals
Issues: Criminal Justice, Fair Courts Project

Lambda Legal and the ACLU of Michigan filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of Jeffrey Martin Six in support of his appeal. Jeffrey Six appealed his conviction for a violation of his constitutional right to a fair and impartial jury due to the trial court’s refusal to allow any voir dire on anti-LGBT bias despite defense counsel’s request to do so and its knowledge that his defense would be based on his assertion that his former partner committed the crime.

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Building on Lambda Legal’s work concerning voir dire and juror bias in Berthiaume v. Smith and People v. Brady Dee Douglas, our brief argued that the court’s denial of voir dire on anti-LGBT bias unconstitutionally deprived Mr. Six of the right to a fair and impartial jury. And that trial courts must conduct voir dire into anti-LGBT biases in a manner that permits informed exercise of both peremptory challenges and challenges for cause, where sexual orientation is so entwined with the issues at trial and will certainly be brought to the attention of the jury.  The brief documented data on sexual orientation bias and prejudice among the public and in the courts, as well as research on implicit bias and how voir dire can make these issues salient and encourage prospective jurors to reflect on their own possible conscious or unconscious biases. It also addresses the harms of juror’s bias or potential bias, including how such biases undermine the integrity of the judicial system. 

The Michigan Court of Appeals remanded this case to the trial court and ordered that the trial court articulate its reasons for denying voir dire concerning anti-LGBT bias.