Attorneys for convicted polo mogul John Goodman have asked that his judge in a DUI manslaughter case be removed for allegedly concealing juror misconduct.
....Attorney Roy Black claims Judge Jeffrey Colbath has repeatedly hidden or ignored contact from sources claiming there was juror misconduct, including a letter from West Palm Beach public relations executive Toni May, who claimed to have been at a Rocco's Tacos bar in Palm Beach Gardens when a person claiming to be a Goodman juror expressed great frustration at juror misconduct. May, a former host of the "South Florida Today" show on WXEL, says she overheard the person's conversation and took notes via text message while dining at the bar with her husband...to continue reading go here.
To see the motion filed by defense counsel go here.
In re Kaminsky, (N.J. Sup. Ct., Bergen County, Mar. 12, 2012) a trial judge held a juror in contempt for going online and researching the potential punishment for a criminal defendant. The juror, who was the foreperson, faced 6 months in jail and a $1000 fine for his criminal contempt conviction. However, his sentence was only a $500 fine.
The latest incident of improper use of social media by a juror involves noted filmmaker Billy Corben who directed the films Cocaine Cowboysand The U. Recently, Corben was the foreman on a jury that convicted a Florida defendant of armed robbery. Apparently, Corben, despite admonitions from the judge, continued to use Twitter and Facebook while sitting as a juror. Although it does not appear as though Corben discussed specifics of the case, he did let all of his followers know that he was on jury duty and received at least one inappropriate comment (listed below) on Facebook.
“We’ll make sure you put the bad guy away!”
In light of Corben's actions, the defendant's attorney has filed a motion for a new trial available here.
In U.S. v. Lawson, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals recently overturned the cockfighting convictions of several defendants. The reversal was due to juror misconduct in the form of online research. Specifically, a juror (177), after a day of deliberations, went home and researched the term "sponsor" on Wikipedia. "Sponsor" was an element of the animal fighting statute that the defendants were accused of violating. Juror 177 also brought in the results of his research to the jury room and shared the material with other jurors.
Upon learning of Juror 177's actions, the trial court held a hearing to investigate whether the guilty verdicts had been tainted. The trial court ultimately determined that there was no reasonable possibility that the external influence caused actual prejudice. Thus, the trial court denied the defense's motion for a new trial based on a violation of the 6th Amendment right to a fair trial. In overturning the trial court's decision, the Court of Appeals determined that because the government has a "heavy obligation" to rebut the presumption of prejudice by showing that "there is no reasonable probability that the verdict was affected by the" external influence, , the government's showing in this case, as a matter of law, does not satisfy that obligation. The Court of Appeals then went on to vacate the appellants' convictions under the animal fighting statute, and...award them a new trial with respect to those charges.