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9th Circuit bans juror exclusion over sexual orientation

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SAN FRANCISCO — A federal appeals court became the first in the nation to rule that prospective jurors may not be excluded because of their sexual orientation, a decision that expands juror protections beyond race and gender and provides legal ammunition to challenge laws that limit gay rights.

The sweeping, unanimous decision Tuesday by a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a mixed jury verdict in an antitrust case involving an AIDS drug. The 9th Circuit said the case would have to be retried because an obviously gay juror was unjustifiably excluded from the jury.

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