Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Juror Remorse. What Now?

A Long Island, NY, judge is in a very tough spot, as two of the twelve jurors who convicted a Suffolk County man of reckless manslaughter have come forward, very publicly, with tales of pressure and coercion. It seems they really didn't want to convict John White of shooting of 17-year-old Daniel Cicciaro Jr. on Aug. 9, 2006. They believed that reasonable doubt existed as to whether or not White, a black man, was reckless in confronting a group of white teenage boys who had driven to his home in search of his son, who they intended to assault. None of the facts of the case appear to be in dispute; rather, ten jurors were certain that White was reckless to emerge from his house, gun in hand, to confront the teens instead of calling the police. The other
two were equally certain that the law permitted White to use lethal force to protect his home and person. The judge, determined to avoid a hung jury which necessitate a retrial, kept the jurors in session late into the night of Saturday, December 22, and made clear his intention to keep the jury in session every day until a verdict was reached.

The New York Post has this today:

This raises some serious questions. First: in a unanimous jury system of determining criminal guilt, what's wrong with a hung jury? The prosecution was required to convince twelve people that there was no reasonable doubt as to the charges. The prosecution failed. That is a rational result, especially in a case as ambiguous as this. Should the judge place so much pressure on the jury to reach a verdict that two of them act against their oath? And what now, of that verdict? It can't possibly stand. Either the judge sets it aside and declares a mistrial, or this thing gets bounced on appeal.

Stay tuned...

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