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Dozing juror should have stayed in deliberations

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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.’”

 
 

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  1. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  2. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  3. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

  4. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  5. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

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