Michael Savala sued the State of Iowa, the Iowa Department of Corrections, and the director of the Iowa Department of Corrections for employment discrimination. He alleged the defendants discriminated against him on the basis of his age, race, color, and national origin in violation of the Iowa Civil Rights Act. At his trial, Savala raised an objection to the jury venire composition and claimed it failed to represent a fair cross section of the community “based on an underrepresentation of Latinos in the jury population.” The district denied Savala’s challenge and held the fair cross section requirement is not applicable to civil jury trials. On appeal, Savala argued the Fifth and Seventh Amendments to the United States Constitution mandate civil juries to be drawn from a fair cross section of the community.
As noted by the Iowa Supreme Court, when it comes to criminal cases the Supreme Court of the United States’ fair section jurisprudence comes from the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution and applies to state governments through the Fourteenth Amendment. The Sixth Amendment is only applicable in criminal prosecutions, thus Savala relied on the Fifth and Seventh Amendments arguing they create an equivalent right in civil cases. The Iowa Supreme Court pointed out the Amendments relied on by Savala have not been interpreted by the Supreme Court of the United States to mandate a fair cross section of the community in jury pools for civil cases. Therefore, the Iowa Supreme Court declined to recognize such a right. Furthermore, the Fifth and Seventh Amendments do not apply directly to state government actions.
The Iowa Supreme Court affirmed that the fair cross section requirement does not apply to civil jury trials.
Savala v. State of Iowa, et al., No. 21–0900 (Iowa Dec. 9, 2022).