ILNews

Dozing juror should have stayed in deliberations

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

A juror who gave the lone vote to acquit and eventually refused to deliberate did not meet the criteria for removal, the Indiana Court of Appeals has ruled.

In Scott A. Wright v. State of Indiana, 45A05-1310-CR-526, the Court of Appeals vacated the conviction of Scott Wright for Class A felony child molesting and remanded for a new trial. The COA found the Lake Superior Court erred by removing Juror 356.

Two hours after deliberations had begun, the jury informed Judge Salvador Vasquez they were deadlocked. Juror 356 voted not guilty and could not be swayed to change his vote by the other jurors.

Several times the jury panel appealed to Vasquez, who asked them to continue trying to talk. Eventually, the other jurors said Juror 356 had stopped talking and appeared to be falling asleep.

Vasquez then granted the state’s motion and replaced the juror with an alternate. Explaining his reasoning for removal, the judge said, “It’s one thing to stick to your guns, it’s another to refuse to participate in the cooperative effort of deliberation.”

The Court of Appeals ruled the juror should not have been replaced because his behavior did not create an extreme situation that warranted removal. Pointing to Riggs v. State, 809 N.E.2d 322, 327 (Ind. 2004), the appeals court reiterated the criteria established by the Indiana Supreme Court for discharging a juror during deliberations.

 “Juror 356 voted for acquittal based on his determination the victim was not credible, and he would not change his mind,” Judge Melissa May wrote for the court. “His behavior does not fall within the category the Riggs Court characterized as ‘the most extreme situations where it can be shown that the removal of the juror (1) is necessary for the integrity of the process, (2) does not prejudice the deliberations of the rest of the panel, and (3) does not impair the party’s right to a trial by jury.’”

 
 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. Why in the world would someone need a person to correct a transcript when a realtime court reporter could provide them with a transcript (rough draft) immediately?

  2. If the end result is to simply record the spoke word, then perhaps some day digital recording may eventually be the status quo. However, it is a shallow view to believe the professional court reporter's function is to simply report the spoken word and nothing else. There are many aspects to being a professional court reporter, and many aspects involved in producing a professional and accurate transcript. A properly trained professional steno court reporter has achieved a skill set in a field where the average dropout rate in court reporting schools across the nation is 80% due to the difficulty of mastering the necessary skills. To name just a few "extras" that a court reporter with proper training brings into a courtroom or a deposition suite; an understanding of legal procedure, technology specific to the legal profession, and an understanding of what is being said by the attorneys and litigants (which makes a huge difference in the quality of the transcript). As to contracting, or anti-contracting the argument is simple. The court reporter as governed by our ethical standards is to be the independent, unbiased individual in a deposition or courtroom setting. When one has entered into a contract with any party, insurance carrier, etc., then that reporter is no longer unbiased. I have been a court reporter for over 30 years and I echo Mr. Richardson's remarks that I too am here to serve.

  3. A competitive bid process is ethical and appropriate especially when dealing with government agencies and large corporations, but an ethical line is crossed when court reporters in Pittsburgh start charging exorbitant fees on opposing counsel. This fee shifting isn't just financially biased, it undermines the entire justice system, giving advantages to those that can afford litigation the most. It makes no sense.

  4. "a ttention to detail is an asset for all lawyers." Well played, Indiana Lawyer. Well played.

  5. I have a appeals hearing for the renewal of my LPN licenses and I need an attorney, the ones I have spoke to so far want the money up front and I cant afford that. I was wondering if you could help me find one that takes payments or even a pro bono one. I live in Indiana just north of Indianapolis.

ADVERTISEMENT