Gunartt v. Illinois Department of Corrections et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER, Denying 146 MOTION for New Trial filed by Isaiah Gunartt.Signed by Judge J. Phil Gilbert on 10/21/2013. (jdh)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
Case No. 10-cv-767-JPG
ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF
CORRECTIONS, MICHAEL P. RANDLE,
WARDEN GAETZ, J. COWAN, MR.
HOUER and MR. LONG,
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter comes before the Court plaintiff Isaiah Gunartt’s motion for a new trial (Doc.
146) to which defendant Mr. Heuer responded (Doc. 157). For the following reasons, the Court
denies the motion.
Gunartt’s basis for a new trial arises from the racial composition of the jury. Gunartt
alleges he told counsel of the importance of having African-Americans on the jury. Counsel
explained to Gunartt that jurors would be selected from “all over” because this was a federal
court. At trial, there were no African-Americans in the venire. Gunartt alleges that counsel’s
comment led him to believe there would be African-Americans on the jury. As a result, Gunnart
asserts two bases for a new trial – ineffective assistance of counsel and racial bias of the jury.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59 provides that a court may grant a new trial “after a
jury trial, for any reason for which a new trial has heretofore been granted in an action at law in
federal court.” This includes where the verdict is against the manifest weight of the evidence,
the damages are excessive, or the trial was unfair to the moving party. Kapelanski v. Johnson,
390 F.3d 525, 530 (7th Cir. 2004).
It is well established that civil litigants do not enjoy a right to effective assistance of
counsel. Stanciel v. Gramley, 267 F.3d 575, 581 (7th Cir. 2001). Accordingly, to the extent
Gunartt argues counsel was ineffective, his argument necessarily fails. Moreover, counsel’s
advice regarding the selection of jurors in a federal trial was accurate, and counsel provided
excellent representation to Gunartt at trial.
There is no doubt that racial discrimination in the selection of jurors in a civil trial may
result in an unfair trial to a litigant and calls into question the integrity of the judicial system.
Edmonson v. Leesville Concrete Co., Inc., 500 U.S. 614, 630 (1991). However, a litigant does
not have the right to demand “a jury of a particular racial composition.” Sargent v. Idle, 212 F.
App’x 569, 573 (7th Cir. 2006). Here, Gunartt is objecting that no African-Americans were in
the venire or the jury. Gunartt, however does not have a right to demand a jury of any particular
racial composition, and he has failed to point to anything in the record calling into question the
impartiality of the jury.
For the foregoing reasons, the Court DENIES Gunartt’s motion for a new trial (Doc.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
DATED: October 21, 2013
s/ J. Phil Gilbert
J. PHIL GILBERT
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