10th Circuit blocks new trial in Indian jury bias case
A member of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe doesn't deserve a new trial for alleged anti-Indian bias on the jury that convicted him, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Wednesday.

Kerry Dean Benally, 36, was convicted of assaulting a Bureau of Indian Affairs officer on the Utah portion of the Ute Mountain Ute Reservation. He was granted a new trial after a juror said other jurors made race-related remarks about American Indians.

Juror Karen Cano testified that the jury foreman stated, "When Indians get alcohol, they all get drunk," the Associated Press reported in December 2007. Another juror asked "what would happen if we found him not guilty? What kind of message would we be sending back to the reservation?" Cano said.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Utah appealed the order for a new trial. The 10th Circuit sided with prosecutors, stating that Cano's testimony should not have been allowed because it covered jury deliberations, which are to remain secret.

The court declined to allow an exception when racial bias claims are made. Without Cano's testimony, Benally had no other evidence about jury bias, the court said.

Get the Story:
Appeals court reinstates assault conviction (The Salt Lake City Deseret News 11/13)
Appeals court rejects new trial for American Indian convicted of beating cop (The Salt Lake Tribune 11/13)

10th Circuit Decision:
US v. Benally (November 12, 2008)

Related Stories:
10th Circuit to hear jury discrimination case (8/20)
Ute man granted new trial based on jury bias (12/4)