Monday, September 16, 2019

Murder Conviction Tossed-Juror had texted 7,000 times during trial

Judges often comment about stuff that happens in the courtroom:  you can't make this stuff up.  Human behavior is limitless in the crazy things people do.  Like the guys peering into Old Faithful at Yellowstone Park despite all the warning signs- it's a federal crime!  So no one should be surprised that a juror texts 7,000 times during trial, the defendant is convicted and the conviction is reversed on appeal by the intermediate appellate court in New York.  It is now before NY's highest appellate court.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

What is a "Rogue Juror?"

A "rogue juror" applies their own specialized knowledge and experience when rendering a verdict rather than analyzing the evidence.  Here is the appellate decision:

Friday, April 12, 2019

Self-described "Stupid Old Fool" Juror Gets 8 Months in Jail for Internet Research

One would think the message has gotten around to the public that ignoring a judge's admonitions about jurors discussing trial service on social media or doing Internet research can result in fines and/or jail time. But, oh no, here's another:

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Defense Attorneys for El Chapo File Motion for Retrial

The lengthy and extremely expensive trial of El Chapo may have to be retried.  Defense attorneys have filed a motion for a new trial due to juror misconduct during the trial.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

After Trial, Juror Sends Victim "Virtual Hugs"

The MN Court of Appeals upheld the trial judge's denial of a Schwartz (post-trial juror misconduct)hearing after it came to light that a juror, after the trial, apparently being enamored with the attractive victim of the crime, sent the victim a text message that he was sending her "virtual hugs".  The juror allegedly got the phone number of the victim off a piece of evidence.  In a word: creepy.

Friday, May 4, 2018

ABA Article on Lawyers Searching Potential Jurors on Linked-In

Generally it is not unethical for lawyers to search for public information on jurors through Linked-In, but searching for private information or attempting to connect with a juror is unethical.  Lawyers should check their state's rules in this area as states differ on their rules.

Friday, April 27, 2018

New Trial Granted Due to Racially-Biased Comments by One Juror in Minnesota Federal Trial

Deja Vu: Facebooking Jurors Cause a Reversal of a Murder Conviction

This time it's in Iowa.  A murder conviction was reversed by the appellate court due to prejudice to the defendant from contacts on Facebook some of the jurors had both before and during deliberations. Pre-deliberations one juror discovered that one of the defendant's relatives was her Facebook friend.  During deliberations a juror shared that on Facebook there were posts about rumors that there would be a riot or violence if the defendant was not found guilty of something.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Friday, March 23, 2018

Juror Playing Games on Phone During Deliberations Held in Contempt

Just like paying attention to the professor in class (and obeying the judge's instructions)  failing to engage in jury deliberations by playing games on one's phone can result in contempt of court.

Friday, February 23, 2018

In Rare Cases Voir Dire May Be Closed to the Public

Here is a link to a recent trial in which, for the privacy concerns of potential jurors, voir dire (jury questioning) was closed to the public. The original conviction was reversed for juror misconduct.  The trial judge must make specific findings that closure is justified.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Trial Court Needs to Investigate Colorable Claim of Extraneous Influence on a Juror

Here is another case of a trial judge failing to investigate further alleged possible extraneous influence on a juror or juror misconduct during a trial:

Friday, February 2, 2018

Friday, December 1, 2017

Habeus corpus granted to convicted defendant where juror brought extraneous social media information to deliberations

Juror in murder trial brought to deliberations Facebook information regarding the defendant's past history and information on an online eulogy for the victim of the murder. Juror also "Googled" gang information regarding gang codes and activity.  Defendant was convicted. Trial judge denied an evidentiary hearing on juror misconduct.  Federal court has granted habeus corpus.  The state must grant a new trial within 90 days of the order or when appellate review becomes final, or defendant must be released.


Monday, September 18, 2017

When Colorable Claim of Juror Misconduct is Raised, Inquiry of Jurors MUST Occur

The link below is to federal 6th Circuit decision reversing the trial court which failed to itself or permit counsel to inquire of jurors as to a color claim of misconduct affecting the verdict.  Here it was a juror's extraneous communications with a prosecutor (who was not involved in the case).This is but one of several cases in the past few years cautioning trial judges not to ignore claims of alleged juror misconduct but to inquire further through counsel.  (a Remmer hearing) There should not be a race to finality but rather a thoughtful systematic inquiry into what happened and how it may have affected the verdict.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Why Juror Misconduct is So Wasteful and Demands Harsh Consequences

In June a California murder trial was about to begin after FOUR weeks of jury selection and the questioning of hundreds of prospective jurors when juror misconduct was found.  It is unclear from the reports but it appears a juror chosen to hear the case was conducting Internet research in violation of the court's order.  This is a misdemeanor in California.  The trial had to start all over again as a result and the juror (behaving badly) is facing misdemeanor charges.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Jurors Cannot Consider Possible Sentence in Deliberations in Criminal Case

Judges instruct jurors that during their deliberations they cannot consider the possible sentence in determining guilt.  The jurors in this case considered the comments of a juror about possible sentence, including release and credit for jail time already served.  The murder conviction was reversed and a new trial ordered.


Monday, August 7, 2017

Pills Disappear From Jury Deliberation Room During Deliberations

During deliberations the Ohio jury had in its possession 71 oxycodone pills which were evidence admitted at trial.  Sometime during deliberations someone, perhaps when the room was empty, took advantage and stole them.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Science for Judges to Consider Relative to Length of Deliberations

A recently-released book by Stulberg and Magness entitled Peak Performance has very interesting information about the science of thinking, performing tasks, burnout, and rest which I think is applicable to jury management.  It has made me think about the significant downside to having jurors sit in a courtroom for several days, if not weeks, then only to spend hours in deliberations, cooped up in a windowless room, away from family and work, with no exercise and crummy meals, and expecting them to make rational decisions.  The book is worthy of a look for trial judges.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Allowing Any Device in the Jury Deliberation Room Is a Bad Idea

In the Arizona case linked below the trial court allowed a court laptop in the deliberation room for the jury to review certain evidence admitted at trial.  Unfortunately there was a "witness interviews" disk also in the laptop disk drive, evidence not admitted at trial.  The jurors saw the disk but did not view it and contacted the bailiff immediately.  No mistrial was ordered by the trial court and this decision was affirmed.  No harm, no foul.  Still a very bad idea.  I am only familiar with MN procedure where this would not have been allowed.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Federal Circuit Court of Appeals Remands for Evidentiary Hearing of Issue of Juror's Blogging During Trial Deliberations

A defendant was indicted for wire fraud, however for 2.5 years prior to that the civil litigation against him was the subject of hundreds of comments in a blog, some of which were inflammatory.  Immediately after the verdict of guilty the government lawyers informed defense counsel of blog-post comments from the night before the verdict authored by an anonymous person claiming to have been a juror (#8) in the trial.  See page 10 of the opinion linked below for the juror's posting. 

The court interviewed the juror (#8) and she denied seeing the blog mentioned above or discussing it with other jurors.. The court declined to interview any other jurors.  This was followed by still other posts from alleged jurors about #8's comments.  The trial court declined motions for reconsideration and new trial.  The appeal followed.

The Court of Appeals has remanded the case for an evidentiary hearing.  The moral here:  TRIAL JUDGES MUST THOROUGHLY INQUIRE INTO ALLEGED MISCONDUCT BY JURORS DURING DELIBERATIONS.

U.S. v. Zimny: