Justices agree: No mistrial because of juror’s Facebook friend

January 21, 2016

The Indiana Supreme Court granted transfer to a case to affirm the Court of Appeals decision denying a mistrial for a man who argued a juror’s being “friends” with the victim’s relative on Facebook required the mistrial.

After Kastin Slaybaugh was convicted of rape, he sought the mistrial, claiming that a juror had denied in voir dire knowing the victim or her family, but he discovered a relative of the victim was Facebook friends with the juror. The juror said she had more than 1,000 “friends” on Facebook because she was a Realtor and used it for networking purposes. She denied knowing the victim or her family, and said she did not recognize the victim’s name during voir dire or recognize her while she testified.

The trial court determined the juror was being truthful and denied the motion for a mistrial. The Court of Appeals affirmed in September.

“Slaybaugh merely suggests that the evidence reviewed by the trial court — specifically, the Facebook pages submitted with his motion — support a decision opposite that of the trial court. Slaybaugh’s argument that the trial court abused its discretion by finding that the Juror was truthful during voir dire is nothing more than an invitation to reweigh the evidence and the court’s credibility determination, which we will not do,” Judge Rudolph Pyle wrote. “Slaybaugh has failed to meet his burden of showing juror misconduct. Indeed, he has failed to show that there was misconduct, let alone gross misconduct.”

“We agree with the result reached by the Court of Appeals, grant transfer, expressly adopt and incorporate by reference the Court of Appeals opinion in accordance with Indiana Appellate Rule 58(A)(1), and affirm the trial court,” the two-page per curiam opinion from the Supreme Court stated.

The case is Kastin E. Slaybaugh v. State of Indiana,  79S02-1601-CR-28.


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