Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Proposed CA Law Would Allow Judges to Fine Jurors Up to $1,500 For Social Media Violations

Here is a link to LA Times article.  Perhaps jurors who admit to being "addicted" to social media and Internet research should simply be excused from jury service rather than risk a mistrial.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Juror's Objection to Lack of Diversity in Jury Panel Results in New Trial

The issue of racial makeup of juries came to a head when a juror arose in a Tennessee courtroom and stated that he felt it was unfair for two black men to be tried when no person of color was on the jury panel.
Here is a link to the newspaper article which discusses BATSON challenges to an attorney's peremptory strikes of jurors.  If there is an objection to a strike as being racially-motivated, the striking lawyer must establish a race-neutral basis for striking that juror.

The fact relevant to this blog is that it is alleged that during a break the juror's were discussing this issue, thereby violating the judge's admonition not to discuss the case:

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Unusual Precaution of Sequestration During an Entire Trial: Being Cut Off From All Media

Jurors are usually not sequestered during deliberations, but if sequestered then only during deliberations.  I have seen it suggested that jurors be sequestered during the entire trial, not just deliberations, to prevent violations of the court's orders not to do Internet research or discuss the case on social media.  Here is an article about life for jurors so sequestered:


Friday, April 15, 2016

In Widely-Followed NY Trial, Juror Fails to Disclose Father Went to Prison; Also Fails to Disclose Pre-trial Anti-Police Posts on Social Media; Conviction in Jeopardy

Former NY police officer was convicted of manslaughter.  The juror lied during voir dire about any family members having been accused of a crime.  He also posted anti-police comments on social media prior to trial.  Some speculate that he really wanted to serve on the jury.  Defense counsel are seeking a new trial. 


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

MN Judge Did Not Err in Immediately Excusing Juror Drunk During Deliberations

In a decision reported March 14 the Minnesota Court of Appeals found that a MN judge did not err in not sua sponte excusing a drunk juror during deliberations who had also been disruptive during lunch at a restaurant.   The criminal defendant's counsel chose to ask the court to dismiss the jury for the day.  This occurred and the juror deliberated the next day and the defendant was found guilty and appealed.  This case also raises the question of how much inquiry the judge can make of the juror without first offering the juror the opportunity to consult an attorney before incriminating herself for contempt of court for being drunk at court.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Is Criminalizing Juror Misconduct the Only Solution?

Here is a link to a thought-provoking article about criminalizing juror misconduct related to social media.  The author states that deterrence is the primary goal, but comments at the end on the various objections to this approach:

1.  It impedes the trial judge's ability to inquire into the misconduct; the alleged "bad juror" can refuse to incriminate themselves by responding to the judge's inquiry.

2.  Judges are resistant to the legislature intruding in the court's province, the courtroom.

3.  Jurors will be even more discouraged from even showing up for jury duty.

The article is short and worthy of reading.

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.