Friday, December 6, 2019
The highest appellate court of New York has soundly criticized the bad-acting jurors who research on the Internet during trial in violation of the trial judge's admonitions. Here we go again! Murder conviction thrown out! Retrial to great expense of all parties and anguish for witnesses.
Monday, September 16, 2019
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
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
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
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.
Monday, February 25, 2019
In perhaps the most important federal criminal prosecution in years, juror misconduct may have occurred:
Friday, February 8, 2019
A Case of Sheriff Behaving Badly: Snooping at Defense Counsel Notes and Jurors During Trial Results in Dismissal of Charges
Friday, November 30, 2018
Judge acknowledges that prospective jurors should be instructed not to do Internet research once jury selection starts. Here it caused a mistrial..
Tuesday, November 6, 2018
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, August 24, 2018
Here is a Minnesota case just issued dealing with an issue I have addressed before in this space:
Friday, May 25, 2018
Friday, May 4, 2018
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
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
Once again, a juror is sentenced to jail, though a suspended sentence, for violating the judge's instructions by doing Internet research.
Monday, April 16, 2018
Friday, March 23, 2018
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
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
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
A juror boasted to others that he had lied on his questionnaire. Too bad for him that a prosecutor heard his boast. Juror found in contempt and spent a day in jail holding.
Friday, December 8, 2017
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
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
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 18, 2017
Friday, August 11, 2017
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
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
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 30, 2017
Friday, June 23, 2017
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.