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Name: People v. Mello
Case #: C035295
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 04/08/2002
Subsequent History: None

During voir dire at appellant’s trial for aiding and abetting a robbery, the court instructed jurors that if they harbored racial bias against appellant, who was African-American, they should lie about it and make up another reason to be excused from jury service. Although Respondent conceded the trial court’s error, they asserted that the error was harmless. The appellate court here reversed. Although the judge’s motive was only to exclude those with racial bias from the jury, his method was serious error which undermined appellant’s ability to secure a fair and impartial jury.