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Presence of alternate juror in deliberation room not reversible error

April 4, 2013

A man’s conviction of methamphetamine and firearms crimes in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana was not prejudiced by the presence of an alternate juror in the deliberation room, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday.

Geoffrie Allen Lee Dill argued that his conviction and 420-month sentence should be thrown out because allowing the alternate in the deliberation rule violated Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 24(c)(3) which requires the court ensure alternates not discuss the case with anyone. The case is United States of America v. Geoffrie Allen Lee Dill, 12-1733.

“Though the parties agree that the rule prohibits alternates from deliberating with the regular jury, Dill has offered no evidence to suggest that the alternate juror participated in deliberations,” Judge Ann Claire Williams wrote in an eight-page decision affirming the District Court.

The 7th Circuit noted that neither party objected to the alternate being allowed into the deliberation room, and that the court instructed the alternate orally and in written jury instructions to refrain from participating in deliberations.

“Dill has failed to establish that the alternate juror’s presence in the deliberation room affected his substantial rights and the outcome of the proceedings,” Williams wrote.

 

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