Wednesday, September 25, 2013

I thought jury duty was supposed to be boring.

Jury duty has a bad reputation. People always complain about being called for jury duty. They say it's a waste of time and they have more important things to do. They say that jury duty is boring. Well, that was not the experience of Daniel Hardy. He served on a federal jury in Florida. Defendants William Conover and Anthony Tanner were charged with conspiring to defraud the United States government and of mail fraud. There was a six-week trial involving lots of dry financial testimony.  

But jury duty was certainly not boring for Daniel Hardy. Following the trial, Mr. Hardy wanted to "clear his conscience" about what took place during the trial.  Mr. Hardy gave sworn testimony in which he stated that he "felt like the jury was on one big party." Hardy indicated that seven of the jurors, including himself, regularly drank alcohol during noon recess. Four of the jurors, including Hardy, regularly drank between "one to three pitchers" of beer during lunch. The other jurors who drank at lunch regularly consumed mixed drinks. The jury foreman would regularly consume an entire liter of wine.

Mr. Hardy also testified that he and three other jurors smoked marijuana quite regularly during the trial. Mr. Hardy also stated that he observed one juror ingest cocaine at least five times during the course of the trial and he also observed another juror ingest cocaine two or three times during the trial. Several of the jurors took marijuana, cocaine, and drug paraphernalia into the courthouse. One juror sold a quarter pound of marijuana to another juror during the trial.  

The jury eventually convicted both defendants of multiple charges. Mr. Hardy came forward with this information prior to sentencing and the defendants appealed. The issue of juror intoxication went all the way to the United States Supreme Court. The Supreme Court looked at the issue in terms of internal versus external influences on juries. External influences are strictly prohibited. Jurors cannot monitor news reports of the trial or seek input from any other source not admitted into evidence. If that would have happened, the defendants' convictions would have been reversed. But the Supreme Court held that juror intoxication was an internal issue. To summarize 32 page opinion in a nutshell, what happens behind the closed doors of a jury is sacrosanct, and the defendants' convictions were affirmed.

So, if you're ever on trial for your life, you might want to monitor the jury to make sure they are all awake and sober because juror intoxication is not enough to get your conviction overturned. But today's actual lesson is to not let anyone tell you that jury duty is boring ever again!!

Tanner, et al. v. United States, 483 U.S. 107 (1987).

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Welcome Nicole Angeline Cudiamat!

The Northern Law Blog is pleased to announce that Nicole Angeline Cudiamat has been added to the site as a guest contributor, with a special emphasis on immigration law. Nicole maintains a solo practice in Oakbrook Terrace that focuses on immigration and nationality law. Welcome Nicole!!