One of the most fundamental rights of the defendant in a criminal case is the right to a trial by jury. A seasoned Cape Cod criminal defense attorney can help make sure that this and other important rights are protected. This is very important because a biased, prejudiced, or tainted juror can wreak havoc on what is supposed to be a determination by a “fair and impartial” jury of the defendant’s peers. A knowledgeable defense lawyer can also make sure that the defendant’s other constitutional and legal rights were not violated during the arrest process and, if necessary, file a motion in limine to exclude potentially inadmissible evidence.
Facts of the Case
In a recent case, the defendant was a man who was accused of several crimes relating to the illegal possession and improper storage of firearms and ammunition. When the matter was tried to a jury, one of the jurors was excused during deliberations because she told a court officer that she could not continue to deliberate because she was upset by other jurors being “argumentative.” The juror also mentioned that she was emotional due to health issues being suffered by some members of her family. The trial judge opted to replace the juror with an alternate, and the deliberations continued. After the defendant was found guilty, he appealed. The intermediate court of appeals affirmed the defendant’s conviction. He sought further review from the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.
Decision of the Court
The supreme court vacated the judgments entered against the defendant, concluding that the juror had been discharged for reasons that were “not purely personal” and that, thus, her dismissal was prejudicial error. The court went on to conclude that, because there was sufficient evidence for the trial court to deny the defendant’s motion for a required finding of not guilty, the appropriate thing to do was to remand the case for further proceedings.