Assistant U.S. Attorney Who Told Jury That Reasonable Doubt Is the Confidence of “Having a Meal” Without Getting “Sick” Earns the Defendant a New Trial, Holds Ninth Circuit

In United States v. Velazquez, No. 19-50099 (9th Cir. June 22, 2021), a 2-1 panel orders a new trial for a defendant where “the prosecutor trivialized” the reasonable-doubt standard during closing argument, comparing it to “something that you use every single day in your life” such as “having a meal … firmly convinced that theContinue reading “Assistant U.S. Attorney Who Told Jury That Reasonable Doubt Is the Confidence of “Having a Meal” Without Getting “Sick” Earns the Defendant a New Trial, Holds Ninth Circuit”

Culture Wars in the Eleventh Circuit? En Banc Court Votes to Vacate Conviction Because Christian Juror Who “Trusted the Holy Ghost” Was Erroneously Dismissed from Trial

In United States v. Brown, No. 17-15470 (11th Cir. May 6, 2021) (en banc), a strict partisan split yields a 7-4 decision to vacate the fraud conviction of a former U.S. Representative because the judge removed a juror during deliberations who said that “A Higher Being told me [the defendant] was Not Guilty on allContinue reading “Culture Wars in the Eleventh Circuit? En Banc Court Votes to Vacate Conviction Because Christian Juror Who “Trusted the Holy Ghost” Was Erroneously Dismissed from Trial”

Split Sixth Circuit Panel Holds That A Federal Civil Litigant Has An Equal Protection Right to a Jury Deliberation Free of Racial Bias

In Harden v. Hillman, No. 20-5056 (6th Cir. Apr. 6, 2021), a split panel vacates and remands a defense verdict in a § 1983 case, where a juror testified post-trial that other jurors engaged in racial stereotyping during deliberations. The plaintiff, who is Black, claimed excessive force against Officer Hillman, who allegedly roughed him upContinue reading “Split Sixth Circuit Panel Holds That A Federal Civil Litigant Has An Equal Protection Right to a Jury Deliberation Free of Racial Bias”

Fifth Circuit Affirms Seating of Juror Opposed to Gambling in Criminal Trial Involving Gambling

In United States v. Dejean, No. 19-30865 (5th Cir. Feb. 23, 2021), the Fifth Circuit upholds a mail fraud and false-statement conviction over a challenge to Juror 31, who admitted that the defendant’s gambling might possibly “affect the way [he] judge[s] somebody who … is an avid gambler?” “A jury convicted Patrick Hale Dejean ofContinue reading “Fifth Circuit Affirms Seating of Juror Opposed to Gambling in Criminal Trial Involving Gambling”

Sixth Circuit Reassigns Case from District Court That Failed to Give Defendants a “Meaningful Opportunity” to Investigate Juror Bias

In United States v. Lanier, No. 16-6655 (6th Cir. Feb. 11, 2021), on a third trip to the court of appeals, the panel grants the husband-and-wife defendants a new trial after the district court bobbles an investigation into a juror who allegedly communicated with a state prosecutor during the trial. In 2015, the Laniers “wereContinue reading “Sixth Circuit Reassigns Case from District Court That Failed to Give Defendants a “Meaningful Opportunity” to Investigate Juror Bias”

Court’s “Anti-Deadlock Instructions Likely Coerced a Unanimous Verdict” Requiring Retrial, Holds D.C. Circuit

In United States v. Driscoll, No. 19-3074 (D.C. Cir. Jan. 5, 2021), the panel holds that the district court’s repeated efforts to force a verdict denied the defendant a fair trial and required that the conviction be vacated. “Jury deliberations in Driscoll’s trial began on Tuesday, November 20. The jury deliberated for approximately 45 minutesContinue reading “Court’s “Anti-Deadlock Instructions Likely Coerced a Unanimous Verdict” Requiring Retrial, Holds D.C. Circuit”

Judge Who Returned Jury to Deliberate Over Holdout Juror’s Dissent Committed Plain Error Under Fed. R. Crim. P. 31, Holds Seventh Circuit

In United States v. Banks, No. 19-3245 (7th Cir. Dec. 18, 2020), the Seventh Circuit vacates a conviction that the panel holds was “unacceptably coercive,” when the trial judge exposed a dissenting juror during a poll, then sent the jury back to deliberate at 9pm. The United States prosecuted a federal employee who was chargedContinue reading “Judge Who Returned Jury to Deliberate Over Holdout Juror’s Dissent Committed Plain Error Under Fed. R. Crim. P. 31, Holds Seventh Circuit”

New Trial of Punitive Damages in Tobacco Case Does Not Necessitate Retrying Liability or Compensatory Damages from First Trial, Eleventh Circuit Holds.

In Sowers v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 18-11901 (11th Cir. Sept. 15, 2020), where the defendant did not dispute that the plaintiff was erroneously denied a punitive-damage trial, the court holds that the Seventh Amendment Reexamination Clause does not command a retrial of liability. Sowers is an “Engle progeny” action, a case emerging fromContinue reading “New Trial of Punitive Damages in Tobacco Case Does Not Necessitate Retrying Liability or Compensatory Damages from First Trial, Eleventh Circuit Holds.”

Negotiations Over Post-Termination Commission Should Have Been Excluded Under Fed. R. Evid. 408, Holds Fourth Circuit

In Macsherry v. Sparrows Point, LLC, No. 19-1281 (4th Cir. Sept. 1, 2020), a $1 million judgment in favor of plaintiff is vacated when the panel holds that evidence of negotiations over a claimed commission payment constituted offers to compromise a claim under Fed. R. Evid. 408, and thus should not have been admitted intoContinue reading “Negotiations Over Post-Termination Commission Should Have Been Excluded Under Fed. R. Evid. 408, Holds Fourth Circuit”

Under “Unique Facts,” Ninth Circuit Vacates Conviction Because Judge Improperly Dismissed a Juror Hours into Deliberations

In United States v. Litwin, No. 17-10429 (9th Cir. Aug. 27, 2020), the panel hold that the district court violated a defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to a unanimous jury verdict when it dismissed a juror hours into deliberation, based on findings that lacked support in the record. Fed. R. Crim. P. 23(b)(3) permits a courtContinue reading “Under “Unique Facts,” Ninth Circuit Vacates Conviction Because Judge Improperly Dismissed a Juror Hours into Deliberations”