Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Queens NY Juror Fined $1000 For Dishing on Facebook During Trial

Here we go again....and again!  It is frankly astonishing that apparently intelligent jurors feel the need to blab on Facebook about their jury experience during the trial despite the strong warnings of the judge.  This juror fined $1,000.  Fears she may lose her job.


Friday, October 30, 2015

Conviction Reversed Where Judge Failed to Grant New Trial Motion When Juror Had Failed to Disclose Pending Felony Charges

A juror remained silent when voir dire questions were posed about having been charged with a crime.  When it was discovered that this juror had pending charges the defense moved for a new trial which the trial judge denied.  Appeals court reversed.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Celebrities Called to Jury Duty Should Not Criticize "the Boredom"

It's happening again this week.  A prominent reporter on one of the financial cable news networks is on social media expounding on the boredom of waiting at the courthouse to be called for jury duty.  He is to be praised for doing his civic duty.  But jury duty is not intended to be entertainment.  Everyone knows there is a lot of waiting even if you are selected to serve on a jury.  So bring a good book and several newspapers (yes, Millenials, some people actually read newspapers ON PAPER)  You may find the experience quite enlightening.  It's only a few days out of your busy lives.  Indeed some people have had their lives interrupted while they serve on active duty in the military in places like Afghanistan so you have the privilege of serving on a jury.  End of sermon.                                

Friday, October 2, 2015

That Juror Failed to Disclose Being Facebook Friends With Victim's Sister Did Not Result in Mistrial

On the Jur-E Bulletin of the National Center for State Courts it was suggested that judges define for jurors during voir dire what the court means when it says "friend" during jury selection.  It has a different connotation today than even 10 years ago.  Here the juror was a realtor and had a thousand "friends" on Facebook for networking purposes.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Conviction Reversed After Juror Making Racial Comments Found to Have Implicit Bias

A juror told two other jurors that she saw 2 African-American men in her neighborhood and that such an occurrence was unusual and she thought a conspiracy related to the trial.  The other 2 jurors were sympathetic.  The trial judge failed to remove the juror from the case and the defendant was convicted.  Reversed on appeal.

Monday, August 24, 2015

"Mindless Digital Interaction" Doesn't Result in Mistrial in Murder Trial

Check out the judge's comments about "mindless texting."
Continues to amaze me that jurors either don't listen to the judge's admonitions about using devices during trial or simply don't care.  And why are the trials mostly murder trials?  Perhaps the jurors are enjoying what they perceive is celebrity status.  Perhaps the father's text could result in a reversal on appeal.  Watch for more on this in the future.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Judges: Be Aware of a Possible Weak Link in Your Social Media Control Over Jurors

As a result of budget restraints some courts have little or no bailiff support.  Others may have bailiffs who have been poorly-trained or are inexperienced.  We judges need to be vigilant about the support staff interacting with jurors throughout the trial, particularly during deliberations.  There are many cases where bailiffs have given dictionaries or other resources to jurors during trial deliberations, resulting in mistrial.  Bailiffs must be trained to also be vigilant about jurors accessing electronic devices during trial.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Retrial Ordered Where Juror Was a Felon and Juror Failed to Disclose

Felons not having had their rights restored may not serve on juries.  I have had felons report for jury duty and who failed to disclose a felony record.  Fortunately we have discovered it before they served on a jury.  If this is not discovered, a mistrial or retrial could be ordered as that juror is not qualified to serve.

Friday, February 20, 2015

No Error When Judge Discharged Foreperson Who Refused to Reasonably Participate in Deliberations & Introduced Extraneous Matters

Here is link to advanced opinion of Connecticut Supreme Court decision finding no error where trial judge excused the foreperson during deliberations:

A juror accused another juror (the foreperson) of refusing to speak with other jurors, sitting away from a table where the jury was assembled, and commenting that she was just there to observe. (How did this person become the foreperson???)  Eleven jurors confirmed in questioning by the judge that the foreperson was not participating in deliberations.  The foreperson had also speculated that witnesses were bribed, of which there was no evidence.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Juror Dismissed for Visiting Horse That was Subject of Trial

In an animal cruelty trial a juror visited a boarding facility where a horse that was the subject of the case was being boarded.  This was clearly a violation of the judge's instructions. The juror was dismissed but a mistrial was denied.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Monday, December 15, 2014

NFL Player Tweets During Jury Service

At the link below you can read a series of tweets by Cardinals defensive end Darnell Dockett about his jury service, apparently intending to be excused from his civic duty.  Appears he never actually made it into the courtroom.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Really Bad Juror: Juror Commits Multiple Violations of Judge's Admonitions; Conviction Reversed But For Bias

In Iowa a juror committed multiple violations of the trial judge's instructions during criminal trial: failing to disclose relationships with victim's family during voir dire; Facebooking and researching defendant's age; speaking about case to others at a convenience store.  But on appeal most all the violations were determined insufficient for remand, however a finding of bias (acquaintanceship with victim's family) resulted in reversal and remand for new trial.


So we have had movies "Bad Teacher" and "Bad Grandpa" how about Adam Sandler or Pauly Shore starring in "BAD JUROR" ?

Monday, November 10, 2014

Goodman Convicted in Retrial In Case Fraught With Juror Misconduct & Alleged $1 million Bribe

To update from my last post, John Goodman was convicted in a retrial of his criminal case in which there was a mistrial in the first trial due to juror misconduct. 


The juror issues are multiple: juror Van Vliet's disclosure of prior trial; a juror sneaking a computer into his hotel room while sequestered; a juror accused of lying during voir dire.  Something tells me we haven't heard the last about this conviction.


A Vermont man is accused of offering up to $1 million for an acquittal:


Friday, October 17, 2014

Juror Who is Criminal Justice Student Arrested for Contempt for Googling Trial

AH, the youth of today.  So inquisitive, so interested, so unwilling to follow rules at times.   Here is link to the story.  Juror-student age 23 defies judge's instructions and Googles the case, dsicovering its a retrial and shares that information with his fellow jurors.  Of course, he makes it on the news!  His fifteen minutes of fame.  Also a bad mug shot.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Grand Jury in Ferguson MO Police Shooting Being Investigated for Misconduct

Many news sources are reporting that prosecutors are investigating whether a grand juror hearing the Ferguson MO police shooting has discussed the case with members of the public, a clear violation of the grand juror oath of secrecy.  I am not providing a link.  You should be able to find more information on CNN and other news sources.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Second Reversal in a Month by CA Supreme Court Due to Juror Misconduct

The California Supreme Court reversed a murder conviction in a case where a juror was lobbying other jurors prior to deliberations that the defendant was guilty.  The Court stated "...the (juror's) transformation from impartial fact finder to combative advocate before deliberations began is separate and serious misconduct."  People v. Weatherton.

Link to opinion:

The opinion is instructive to judges as it discusses the post-trial hearing conducted by the trial judge, including conflicts attorneys and "Miranda"-style warnings to the jurors questioned about their alleged misconduct and violation of their oath.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Juror's Discussion With Pastor About Mercy, Empathy & Responsibilites as a Citizen Results in Overturned Verdict in Penalty Phase

During deliberations of the penalty phase a juror discussed "mercy and empathy" and his duties as a citizen with his pastor (starts at p. 37 of this 55 page opinion) but not the facts of the case.  The Supreme Court of California reversed the jury verdict in the penalty phase and remanded it to the trial court for a new trial of the penalty phase.