After the verdict, an alternate juror contacted defense counsel about another juror who was reading press coverage about the case during the trial. DRC’s Josh Dubin obtained an affidavit from the alternate juror. Josh Dubin, Evan Lipton (Meister Seelig & Fein), and Gerald Shargel, Esq., then made a motion to the trial court to conduct a forensic examination of the juror’s cell phone. The motion was granted, and a text message between the juror and her father was uncovered, in which the juror’s father wrote: “Make sure he’s guilty!”
Additionally, the forensic examination revealed that the juror read media coverage about the case, received text messages about the case from friends, and deleted other relevant text messages in which the case was discussed. Both the trial court and the Appellate Division found that the juror had been dishonest in attempting to explain her behavior at the juror misconduct hearing.
The Court of Appeals noted that “the cumulative effect of [the juror’s] extreme deception and dishonesty compels us to conclude that her ‘improper conduct . . . may have affected a substantial right of defendant . . . and therefore, the trial court abused its discretion in declining to set aside the verdict.'”
The Court also held, ” . . . the extensiveness and egregiousness of the disregard, deception, and dissembling occurring here leave no alternative but to reverse the judgment of conviction and remit for a new trial and compel us to affirm publicly the importance of juror honesty.”
The Court continued: “extraordinary and dishonest behavior by a juror purposefully selected to be a fair and objective arbiter of the facts in the case causes irredeemable injury to the judicial system and the public’s confidence in it.”
to read the Court of Appeals’ Decision.
** This Press Release was drafted and published by Dubin Research & Consulting