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Juror Text Message Not Enough to Declare Mistrial


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7/31/2015
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A jury in a New York District Court murder case delivered a "guilty" verdict, finding the defendant guilty of second-degree murder of his wife.  The Defendant's attorney asked the court to declare a mistrial after it was discovered that one of the jurors clearly communicated with outsiders via text, in clear violation of jury rules to avoid discussing the case during the pendency of the proceedings.  One of these texts was received by the juror from her father, who stated "Make sure he's guilty."  The juror also deleted hundreds to thousands of texts sent and received over the three week trial.  However, presiding Judge Thomas Miller denied the request for mistrial, holding that the juror's actions were excusable as seemingly inadvertent.  Judge Miller sent on to say that due to the pervasiveness of technology these days, people are accustomed to constant communication and it is difficult to  make jurors understand that text messaging is a form of "improper communication."  Judge Miller seems to be a bit too lenient in this situation; jurors' possible propensity to be glued to their phones does not allow them to violate the clear and necessary rules regarding juror communications, particularly in a high-profile murder case where such communications will inevitably result in juror bias.



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