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.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Juror Does Internet Research During Deliberations, Replaced With Alternate; Conviction Reversed

During deliberations a juror (A) conducted Internet research on the background of the defendant and switched their vote, but did not share the research with the other jurors.    This juror (A) was also found to have been threatened with a punch to the nose by another juror over this misconduct.  As allowed in NJ, Juror A was replaced with an alternate and deliberations ordered to begin anew.   Appellate court questioned this as the jury had already reached a verdict on one of the counts charged.  Conviction was reversed by the appellate court.
New Jersey v. Lloyd and Cade, published 7-18-14.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Considers Claim of Juror Bias

The Sixth Circuit overturned a federal district court order denying a habeus corpus peition by a man convicted of murder and sentenced to death and sent the case back to the federal district court to conisder whether to stay and abey the petition while the defendant seeks state court relief.  Cunningham v. Warden filed 6-24-14.  It was discovered that the jury foreperson was acquainted with the families of the victims and considered them to be her clients and that she ultimately would have to face them in the community.  A "holdout" juror testified in a deposition that she felt pressured by this comment.  The lower court judge concluded that she was not presured to convict.

Most of the decision is about criminal procedure in federal court in this type of matter.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Another Facebooking Juror in Big Trouble for Lying About it Under Oath; Two Others in Same County Likewise in Hot Water

Three jurors in 2 separate trials in the same Florida county are in trouble for violating the court's admonitions about commenting on the trial on social media, one in particular trouble for lying under oath about it:


Thursday, May 1, 2014

ABA Issues Formal Opinion on Lawyers Reviewing Jurors' Internet Presence (Social Media)

ABA Formal Opinion 466 is summarized therein "a lawyer may passively review a juror's presence on the Internet, but may not communicate with a juror...if a lawyer discovers criminal or fraudulent conduct by a juror related to the proceeding, the lawyer must take reasonable remedial measures, including, if necessay, disclosure to the tribunal."  I have no link, but see the ABA website for the full 9-page opinion.  This opinion applies "unless limited by law or a court order."  At least one state has a rule or statute requiring immediate disclosure to the court of fraudulent conduct by a juror, for example, Internet research or social media discussion during trial.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Another Case of Juror Failing to Disclose Victimization of Close Relative During Voir Dire

During voir dire at trial a juror failed to disclose on questionnaire that her cousin had been the victm of a crime factually similar to the case in which voir dire was occuring.  Another juror failed to disclose that the county attorney had represented her in a child custody case.  Conviction reversed by Alabama Supreme Court:

Friday, April 4, 2014

Article "Neuro-Voir Dire and the Architecture of Bias" as Applied to Jurors

Law Prof. Dov Fox offers a new approach in looking at juror bias and argues that the court "should limit the interrogation and disqualification of prospective jurors to personal interests in the case...and to case-specific beliefs."  Brain scanning of jurors for bias?


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Use a Questionaire in Every Criminal Trial?

I have become increasingly convinced that a questionaire, even a short one, should be used in every criminayl jury trial.  Last week a colleague was informed on the second day of a DWI trial by the prosecutor that he had prosecuted one of the impaneled jurors for DWI.  The juror had failed to disclose this in response to the standard voir dire question about whether any of the jurors had been convicted of a crime.  I think jurors will be more forthright in disclosing such information in writing and out of the hearing of other jurors.  The question can also make it clear that DWI is a crime, not just a minor traffic violation.  The questionaire can be tailored to the particular case and ask the juror if they would prefer individual questioning.  I may also hand out the questionaire in the courtroom, review the questions with the jurors, and explain emphatically the need to answer truthfully.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


Lawyers know that communicating with prospective jurors is verboten.  Amazingly a lawyer sent an associate to sneak in the jury assembly room to make observations.  Lawyers in big trouble.  Link:

Friday, January 31, 2014

Entire Jury Pool Discharged After Juror Google-searches Defendant

In April 2013 in Cincinnati Ins. Co. v. Omega Flex , a juror Googled the name of the defendant and shared with other jurors that defendant had a $10 million verdict against it in another case.  It was actually $1 million.  The judge and counsel voir dired several jurors at the bench within sight of the panel.  On defense motion, a magistrate discharged the whole jury pool.  This and other cases lead me to conclude that a formal hearing in which each juror potentially tainted is questioned should be conducted out of the hearing of the other jurors.  An informal bench conference is inadequate.  Rushing to get a jury impaneled without a formal hearing is bad practice.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Juror Researching Penalty Causes Mistrial of Rape Case

Juror said he fell back into old work habits by researching the penalty in the rape case.  He disregarded the judge's admonitions, causing a mistrial after a 5-week trial.  The poor victim must go through the anguish of testifying once again.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Another Facebooking Juror May Cause Mistrial

Juror's rather innocuous posts on Facebook regarding the trial experience may still be found to have violated the judge's admonitions against discussing the case on Facebook or Twitter.  Some people, in fact many people, insist on sharing every detail of their lives on social media even when warned not to by the court.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Link to Prof. Hoffmeister's Interview on His New Book "Social Media in the Courtroom"

Defendant Entitled to Hearing Regarding Juror's Non-verbal Communications With Husband in Courtroom During Trial

This link is to a federal decision granting a hearing to defendant following a murder conviction in which the trial court must investigate further a juror's non-verbal communications with her husband in the courtroom audience during the trial.  These decisions are becoming more frequent in which the trial judge's failure to conduct a hearing regarding alleged juror misconduct is found to be error.
The harmlessness of a juror's conduct can only be determined after a full-blown hearing.