7th Circuit vacates habeas petition, orders further proceedings

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Although a District Court’s grant of the habeas petition of a man claiming he didn’t have an impartial jury was reversed by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, the case was sent back to the lower court for the state to show that the jury was not prejudiced.

Virgil Hall III was convicted by a jury in state court in 2001 of killing his stepson. After Hall was convicted, he found out that one of the juror’s sons was an inmate with him. The juror’s son told his father that he believed Hall was innocent, but the juror later found out that his son and other inmates changed their mind and thought Hall was guilty. That juror conveyed this information to several jurors. Hall was convicted of murder.

The state court rejected Hall’s motion to correct error, he lost on direct appeal, and then filed his petition for habeas in the Northern District of Indiana. Hall argued that the state should have to prove that the extraneous information that reached the jury wasn’t prejudicial and that the Indiana courts contravened established federal law handed down by the Supreme Court, citing Remmer v. United States, 347 U.S. 227 (1954). The District Court granted the petition.

In Virgil Hall III v. Michael Zenk, superintendent, 11-3911, handed down Wednesday, the judges determined that “federal constitutional law maintains a presumption of prejudice in at least some intrusion cases. The standard applied by the Court of Appeals of Indiana requires that a defendant prove that he was probably harmed by an extraneous communication had with a juror, which leaves no room for the potential for a presumption, in contravention of Remmer and (United States v. Olano, 507 U.S. 725 (1993)),” Judge Joel Flaum wrote.

“Even under a narrow reading of Remmer that permits a presumption of prejudice only where there is a likelihood of prejudice … a presumption was due to Hall in his postverdict hearing, and the state court decision to the contrary was an abuse of discretion,” Flaum continued. “Thus, we are confident that despite some ambiguity regarding when the Remmer presumption should apply, all reasonable interpretations of Remmer and its progeny would lead to a presumption of prejudice in favor of Hall in his postverdict hearing. Thus, the trial court that oversaw Hall’s conviction acted contrary to clearly established federal law under the (Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996.)”

The judges remanded for a hearing to determine whether Hall was prejudiced by the extraneous information that reached the jury.



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  1. This is ridiculous. Most JDs not practicing law don't know squat to justify calling themselves a lawyer. Maybe they should try visiting the inside of a courtroom before they go around calling themselves lawyers. This kind of promotional BS just increases the volume of people with JDs that are underqualified thereby dragging all the rest of us down likewise.

  2. I think it is safe to say that those Hoosier's with the most confidence in the Indiana judicial system are those Hoosier's who have never had the displeasure of dealing with the Hoosier court system.

  3. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise

  4. I have a degree at law, recent MS in regulatory studies. Licensed in KS, admitted b4 S& 7th circuit, but not to Indiana bar due to political correctness. Blacklisted, nearly unemployable due to hostile state action. Big Idea: Headwinds can overcome, esp for those not within the contours of the bell curve, the Lego Movie happiness set forth above. That said, even without the blacklisting for holding ideas unacceptable to the Glorious State, I think the idea presented above that a law degree open many vistas other than being a galley slave to elitist lawyers is pretty much laughable. (Did the law professors of Indiana pay for this to be published?)

  5. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.