What is Juror Misconduct?
While we may want to believe that all juries are fair and unbiased, the reality is that jurors are human. Each one has their own preconceived notions and experiences that can impact the way they view the world and your case. The fact that jurors are individuals cannot be avoided; however, jurors are expected to put aside their biases and avoid outside influences while sitting on a jury.
Juror misconduct can take several forms. In its essence, it involves any juror that, for whatever reason, is unable to be impartial and fairly consider the facts of the case. Juror misconduct often involves jurors who did not follow the law of the court or the rules of the judge. The misconduct is not always purposeful or done with intent. In fact, in many instances, the juror is not aware that they have acted out of order.
Examples of Juror Misconduct
There are many reasons why a juror may be found to have committed misconduct. Some of the most common reasons include:
- Concealing information during the jury selection process that would indicate bias, such as a history of racist comments or personal experiences related to the pending case
- Talking about the case with third parties, including family, friends, the media or even other jurors outside of official deliberations
- Refusal to be a participant in the jury deliberations by failure to contribute to discussions or provide his or her views of the evidence
- Obtaining information about the case outside of the trial, such as performing his or her own investigations or gathering information from outside sources to verify evidence brought during trial
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What are the Consequences for Juror Misconduct?
The repercussions for juror misconduct can range from minor disciplinary action to mistrials. According to the law, a juror who is found to have committed misconduct could be held in contempt of court. Ultimately, it is the decision of the presiding judge to investigate the allegations and make a determination as to whether a juror or jurors have acted in ways that violate the law of the court. Some possible responses to a finding of juror misconduct include:
- Cautioning the jury about the misconduct
- Discharging the juror and replacing them with an alternate juror
- Discharging the entire jury if the judge determines that the entire panel has been influenced by the misconduct
- Declaring a mistrial in which the charges will be dismissed or a new trial will be called
The Law Office of Joni Eisenstein – San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney
Jury trials can be long and arduous for criminal defendants and their families. If you or someone you love is facing a criminal trial in the state of California and you have questions about how jury misconduct can impact your case, contact the Law Office of Joni Eisenstein today. Our attorney is available to provide you with a consultation in office or by telephone to discuss your San Diego criminal case.
Any time you are facing criminal charges in San Diego County, it is essential that you secure the legal services of a reputable, skilled criminal defense attorney. Joni Eisenstein can help protect your rights when you are fighting criminal charges. When it comes to fighting juror misconduct, our attorney understands the law and is prepared to help you in the San Diego courts.
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Hiring a criminal defense attorney like Joni Eisenstein can help you go from a place of uncertainty to freedom.