National LGBT Bar Association Announces Victory in 11th Circuit

BTL Staff
By | 2017-10-12T09:00:00-04:00 October 12th, 2017|National, News|

WASHINGTON, DC – In the appeal Berthiaume v. Smith et al, the plaintiff, Raymond Berthiaume, was represented by Akerman LLP and the plaintiff’s trial counsel, Hugh L. Koerner, P.A. At oral arguments, Akerman argued that the lower court’s failure to question potential jurors about anti-LGBT bias was an abuse of discretion because of the high likelihood of prejudice the plaintiff was likely to face in a proceeding where the fact that he is a homosexual was inextricably bound up with the facts of the case and the conduct of the trial. The 11th Circuit agreed and today ruled that the judge’s refusal to permit inquiry into whether potential jurors harbor any biases or prejudices against homosexuals was an abuse of discretion and ordered a new trial.
The National LGBT Bar signed an amicus brief submitted by Lambda Legal in this case.
“LGBT individuals facing trial have the same right to a jury of their peers, free from prejudice, as every other American,” said D’Arcy Kemnitz, executive director of the National LGBT Bar Association. “Today’s decision goes a long way in ensuring that these rights are granted. No one should ever face a jury filled with potential animus, and it is time that members of the judiciary recognize sexual orientation and gender identity as legitimate classes in need of protection.”
The National LGBT Bar Association is the leading organization working for LGBT equality on juries. The LGBT Bar works with legislators on both sides of the aisle to ensure a fair selection process. The main focus thus far, The Jury ACCESS and Juror Non-Discrimination Acts (S. 635/H.R. 1515), are bipartisan pieces of legislation that would ensure potential jurors cannot be struck on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

About the Author:

BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 25th anniversary.