Ever wonder what happens when a polled juror disagrees with the verdict in open court? Well, according to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in U.S. v. McDonald, the trial judge just has to tell the jurors to continue to deliberate. In McDonald, the jury announced its guilty verdict in open court. However, during polling, juror #11 failed to confirm that she was in favor of the guilty verdict. This led to a sidebar among the judge and the parties. During this sidebar, the judge told the parties that he planned to tell the jurors to go back to the jury room and continue to deliberate in light of all of the instructions that I have given you. Neither the defense nor prosecution disagreed with these instructions.
The jurors returned one hour later and once again convicted the defendant. When the jurors were polled the second time they were all in agreement with the verdict. The defendant subsequently appealed. Specifically, the defendant wanted the trial judge to instruct [each] juror not [to] abandon any conscientiously held beliefs.
According to the appellate court, it should be clear that the district courtʹs instruction was not an Allen charge at all...The instruction contained no language ʺobligat[ing] jurors to convince one another that one view was superior,ʺ which ordinarily would require the inclusion of further cautionary language...And we find nothing in the context and circumstances of this case that would require the cautionary language despite the absence of any Allen‐type instruction to reconsider oneʹs views...In the circumstances presented by this case, we think that the district courtʹs approach was a prudent one. The courtʹs instruction correctly carried no implication that any juror opposing conviction was obligated to reconsider her views.
To read previous posts on polling jurors go here.