Federal Judge Orders New Trial After Term 'Wetback' Used By Juror

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A federal judge has ordered a new trial for two Mexican restaurant owners who were accused of hiring undocumented workers, after he learned a juror refered to the defendants as "wetbacks," according to the Bangor Daily News.

Brothers Hector and Guillermo Fuentes own the Fajita Grill in Maine, along with two Cancun restaurants in the same state. They were charged with conspiracy to harbor undocumented aliens for profit, harboring undocumented aliens for profit, and aiding and abetting document fraud. They remained free on bail while awaiting sentencing.

Judge D. Brock Hornby wrote a 23-page decision after ordering a new trial for the brothers. A U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services officer wrote to Judge Hornby after having a conversation with a juror, in which the juror said: "They are all guilty wetbacks anyway." 

“The defendants are entitled to have twelve — not eleven, but twelve — jurors make [a] decision impartially based upon all the evidence and based upon deliberations among them,” U.S. District Judge D. Brock Hornby wrote. “I conclude that these defendants were denied that right, no matter how much this juror believes that he has no discriminatory feelings toward Mexicans.”

A new trial has been set for October. Leonard Sharon, the attorney representing Hector Fuentes, said that he has never before seen a motion for a new trial granted based on these set of circumstances. 

“Cases that involve juror misconduct are few and far between,” he said. “We know these kinds of things happen, we just don’t usually discover it.”

What do you think of this case? Are you surprised people are still using the term "wetback"? Share in the comments!

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