Sunday, April 08, 2012

1st Circuit: Bible In Jury Room, But Unconsulted, Does Not Require New Trial

In United States v. Rodriguez, (1st Cir., March 28, 2012), the U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a convicted defendant's motion for a new trial based on discovery that a pocket-size New Testament Bible was found in the jury deliberation room. The district court had held a hearing on the matter, and the jury foreperson testified that the Bible was not discussed during jury deliberations, and she never even saw it open. The Court of Appeals held that this was a sufficient investigation to eliminate questions as to whether extrinsic information was used to improperly influence the jury. It was not an abuse of discretion for the trial judge, under the circumstances, to refuse to bring in every juror to question them on the matter. National Law Journal (3/30) reports on the decision.