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Tag Archives: jury & jurors

Criminal Practice – Motion for Appropriate Relief – No Evidentiary Hearing – Jury & Jurors – News Report (access required)

State v. Rollins Defendant’s motion for appropriate relief failed to specify (1) what news broadcast an unnamed juror had seen, besides a possible broadcast summary from the News 14 Carolina website; (2) the extent to which this juror received or remembered the broadcast; (3) whether the juror shared the contents of the news broadcast with other jurors; and (4) the prejudicial effect, if any, of the alleged juror misconduct. Juror Bossard’s affidavit raised speculation, not specific contentions requiring an evidentiary hearing when he said the juror in question was quiet during the proceedings, adamant as to defendant’s guilt during deliberations, and later mentioned seeing a newscast related to the case. Defendant speculated, “It was reasonable to believe that the news broadcast influenced her opinion and the deliberations of the jury” and “in Mr. Bossard’s opinion, the juror based her decisions during deliberations on the news broadcast.” Defendant’s speculation based on Mr. Bossard’s speculation long after jury deliberations ended was insufficient to merit an evidentiary hearing.

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Criminal Practice – Jury & Jurors – ‘Anonymous’ Jury – Murder Trial – First Impression – Constitutional – Hearsay Evidence – Murdered Witness — Conspiracy (access required)

U.S. v. Dinkins Using an ‘anonymous’ jury whose biographical information has been withheld from defense lawyers and defendants accused of drug-trafficking and the murder of government witnesses is not a reason to overturn their convictions; the 4th Circuit follows decisions by its sister circuits and provides guidelines for use of anonymous juries.

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Criminal Practice – Jury & Jurors – Wikipedia Research – Cockfighting Charges – New Trial (access required)

U.S. v. Lawson A juror’s use of Wikipedia to research an element of a criminal offense violated defendant’s right to a fair trial on illegal “cockfighting” charges, and the 4th Circuit vacates defendant’s conviction for violating an animal fighting statute, 7 U.S.C. § 2156(a), and conspiracy convictions of defendants related solely to the animal fighting activities.

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Criminal Practice – Robbery & Assault – Shackles – No Prejudice – Indictment – Speedy Trial – Jury & Jurors – Unanimity (access required)

State v. Lee The trial court did not follow the law when it required defendant to remain in shackles during trial because he was financially unable to make bond. However, the error was harmless under the particular circumstances of this case: The trial court clearly and emphatically instructed the jury not to consider defendant’s restraints in any manner, and despite having to present his own defense while wearing the shackles, defendant was still able to obtain an acquittal on one of the attempted murder charges against him. Furthermore, given the overwhelming evidence against defendant, including his own Mirandized statements, we fail to see how defendant’s shackling contributed to his convictions.

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Criminal Practice – Murder – Jury & Jurors – Impartiality — Batson Challenge – Discovery – Imperfect Self-Defense (access required)

State v. Pender Even though a juror admitted during voir dire that he had learned about this case by reading about it in the newspaper, during questioning by the court and defense counsel, the juror repeatedly asserted that he believed he could put aside what he had learned from the media. The trial court did not err in denying defendant’s challenge to the juror for cause. We find no error in defendant’s conviction of first-degree murder.

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Criminal Practice – Jury & Jurors – Voir Dire Reopened – Remaining Peremptory Challenge – New Trial (access required)

State v. Hammonds During trial, the court reopened voir dire to allow questioning of a juror who had been seen having lunch with an attorney on the DA’s staff. Defendant had peremptory challenges remaining, and - once the court reopened voir dire — he had the absolute right to exercise one of those challenges to remove the juror.

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Criminal Practice – Jury & Jurors – Request for Transcript – Judge’s Discretion – No Prejudice (access required)

State v. Starr The trial court erred when it told the jury that it lacked the technological capability to provide the jury with the transcript it requested. However, the defendant failed to show that the court’s failure to exercise its discretion was prejudicial to him. We modify and affirm our Court of Appeals’ decision to uphold defendants’ convictions of four counts of assaulting a firefighter with a firearm.

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Criminal Practice – Jury & Jurors – Deadlock – Incomplete Re-Instruction – Rape Charge – New Trial (access required)

State v. Gillikin After four hours of deliberating, the jury informed the trial judge that they were deadlocked on four of five charges. When the judge re-instructed the jury, he gave some, but not all of the instructions set out in G.S. § 15A-1235(b); in particular, nowhere in the re-instructions is there a suggestion that no juror was expected to “surrender his honest conviction” nor reach an agreement that might do “violence to individual judgment.” The trial judge’s re-instructions are a clear violation of statutory guidelines, necessitating a finding of prejudicial error.

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Criminal Practice – Jury & Jurors – Spanish-Speaking Jurors – Court Translator (access required)

U.S. v. Cabrera-Beltran Spanish-speaking jurors who express doubt about abiding strictly by translations provided by official court translator during this drug conspiracy trial can be struck for cause, the 4th Circuit says; striking three jurors did not violate defendant’s Sixth Amendment rights, and defendant’s convictions for conspiracy to import and distribute cocaine and heroin are affirmed.

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Speaking with jurors post-trial can yield invaluable lessons  (access required)

After spending the length of a trial staring at a group of strangers who hold the fate of a client in their hands, the last thing lawyers may want to do is sit down and chat with the jury. But getting jurors’ take on the trial – from the persuasiveness of a closing argument to the credence of testimony – can be invaluable. Speaking to a jury allows an attorney to “learn what happened during deliberations, how they perceived your witnesses, how they perceived you and your presentation abilities, whether your strategies and themes came across and what was really crucial,” said Richard Gabriel, president of Decision Analysis, a national trial consulting company in Los Angeles and president of the American Society of Trial Consultants Foundation.

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