Thursday, November 14th, 2013

District Court Properly Exercised Discretion to Halt Deliberations and Investigate Juror Misconduct

United States v. Purnell, No. 12-4167-cr (2d Cir. Nov. 14, 2013) (Walker, Cabranes, and Lohier) (summary order), available here

This summary order holds that the district court properly exercised its discretion to halt jury deliberations and investigate potential juror misconduct.
During deliberations, the jury sent two notes stating that it was deadlocked. Both times, the district court instructed the jury to continue deliberating. A third note stated that one juror was being “unreasonable” and may have withheld information from the court during voir dire.
Rather than simply deliver another Allen charge, the district court decided to question the juror at issue, who was subsequently removed from the jury. The Circuit held that the court’s decision to act in this manner was a proper exercise of its discretion. Indeed, the Circuit noted, it had recently reversed a court for not investigating credible claims of juror misconduct. See United States v. Haynes, 729 F.3d 178, 192 (2d Cir. 2013), available here.
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