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Jury Issue Results in Reversed NJ Criminal Conviction

27
Sep
2010

by in Criminal Appeals

State v. Vincent Shelton, unpublished opinion, App. Div. Docket No. A-5838-07T4 (July 14, 2010) – Convictions reversed. “On appeal, defendant asserts that the reconstituting of the jury after substituting a juror rather than declaring a mistrial was plain error and requires reversal…. [W]e deem the critical factor to be the jury’s reporting that it had reached a verdict as to one of the counts of the indictment. That being the case, we are mindful of the admonition … regarding jury deliberations proceeding to a point where reconstitution is not a viable alternative. The report of reaching a verdict is a critical factor in the analysis. Such information informs us that the remaining eleven jurors had reached a conclusion that, even with instructions that the jury was to begin deliberations anew, may be unalterable. Moreover, the excused juror, even though not exposing his bias, participated in the deliberative process presumably lending his view to the merits of the issues before the jury. We can not speculate as to what took place in the jury room both before and after the reconstituting of the jury. We resolve the balance between judicial economy and insuring a fair trial in favor of the latter and conclude that the appropriate course of relief is to order a new trial.”

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