Two Palm Beach County Cases Touch on Issues of Juror Misconduct

by appealattorneylaw

As I was scrolling through the news this morning, I came across two articles in the Palm Beach Post that I wanted to pass along to the local criminal defense and criminal appeals attorneys out there.

The first article reports that Palm Beach County Circuit Court Judge Karen Miller has stated that she will call back jurors to inquire into allegations that the jurors discussed a criminal case before the evidence was closed, in violation of the court’s instructions.  Although the Court has not set a date for the hearing, according to the article, the Judge decided to call the jurors back after a local criminal defense attorney filed an affidavit executed by one of the jurors, wherein the juror indicated that she had a “terrible concern that the verdict that the jury reached was not fair.”  The individuals were both found guilty of the 2011 shooting death of a 15-year-old South Bay youth.  They have not yet been sentenced.

In the next article (an op-ed piece), the Palm Beach Post notes that one of the jurors from the John Goodman trial recently admitted in a self-published book that his wife had once been arrested on a charge of DUI.  Obviously, Goodman’s defense team says it asked all potential jurors if any family members had ever been charged with DUI, and that if they had known of his ex-wife’s arrest they would not have selected him.  Armed with that information, John Goodman’s criminal appeals lawyers filed a motion in the Fourth District Court of Appeal case, seeking to have the Court relinquish jurisdiction so as to allow the trial court to consider the issue.  The Fourth DCA initially denied Goodman’s motion on March 22, 2013.  However, after Goodman filed a Motion for Reconsideration, the Fourth DCA granted the motion, and on April 1, 2013, the Court granted the Motion to Relinquish based on the newly discovered evidence of juror misconduct.  The Court’s April 1, 2013, order which can be found on the Fourth DCA docket for case number 4D12-1930, reads as follows:

The motion to reconsider the order denying stay dated March 22, 2013, is denied.  The motion for relinquishment based on newly discovered juror misconduct is granted for the defendant to file and present to the trial court a motion based upon the alleged juror misconduct and for the court to allow a juror interview and then to rule on the issue.  Such relief is not procedurally barred. See e.g. Marshall v. State, 854 So. 2d 1235, 1242 (Fla. 2003); Davis v. State, 778 So. 2d 1096 (Fla. 4th DCA 2001).  Relinquishment is for a period of forty-five days.  ORDERED that appellant’s motion filed March 28, 2013, for permission to file a reply to State’s response is hereby granted.

I don’t know about you, but I am glad to see that both Courts have taken the courageous step of inquiring into the serious issue of juror misconduct.  Job well done.