Sixth Circuit Holds District Court Lacked Power to Order a Forensic Examination of a Juror’s Personal Electronics to Investigate Alleged Misconduct in a Criminal Case

In In re Sittenfeld, No. 22-3694 (6th Cir. Sept. 23, 2022), the Sixth Circuit denies a mandamus petition and thus leaves undisturbed the denial of an order sought by a criminal defendant to compel the forensic examination of a juror’s cellphone, computer, or “any electronic device that [the juror] used to make electronic communications.” “InContinue reading “Sixth Circuit Holds District Court Lacked Power to Order a Forensic Examination of a Juror’s Personal Electronics to Investigate Alleged Misconduct in a Criminal Case”

District Court Has No Discretion to Vacate a Partial Verdict Because It Is Supposedly “Irreconcilably Inconsistent” With A Hung Jury on Another Count, Holds Fourth Circuit

In Jordan v. Large, No. 19-7855 (4th Cir. Mar. 4, 2022), the Fourth Circuit holds that the district court erred when it vacated a partial verdict in favor of a prisoner-plaintiff because it was supposedly “irreconcilably inconsistent” with the jury’s inability to reach a verdict on another count. Plaintiff, “a prisoner in Red Onion StateContinue reading “District Court Has No Discretion to Vacate a Partial Verdict Because It Is Supposedly “Irreconcilably Inconsistent” With A Hung Jury on Another Count, Holds Fourth Circuit”

Foreign Defendants Have No Due Process Right to Personally Attend a Civil Forfeiture Hearing, Holds Eleventh Circuit

In USA v. Approximately $281,110.00, No. 20-11107 (11th Cir. Oct. 13, 2021), the Eleventh Circuit affirms a civil forfeiture verdict where the jury rejected an innocent-owner defense for Chinese nationals who were barred from entering the country for trial. “The main issue on appeal is whether foreign nationals have a constitutional right to enter theContinue reading “Foreign Defendants Have No Due Process Right to Personally Attend a Civil Forfeiture Hearing, Holds Eleventh Circuit”

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”