Attempted Murder Jury Misconduct Hearing
This matter concerns an appeal from a criminal jury trial "convicting defendant...of attempted murder in the second degree, assault in the first degree and criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree (two counts), and sentencing him, as a second felony offender, to an aggregate term of 25 years." Criminal defense attorneys in New York, Florida Criminal Defense Attorneys and basically attorneys who defend against criminal accusations across the country know the difficulty in showing the misconduct of a jury. Cases from jury intoxication to cases where jurors were asleep for testimony were reviewed and are summarily denied; however, recently, the misconduct of jurors who seek to obtain information out of the trial, through social media for example, has resulted in a great many cases re-examined and, in some instances, jury verdicts thrown out. A hearing was ordered here.
When you hire a criminal defense attorney, look for more than just a trial or the ability to prosecute cases (i.e. the years as a "former prosecutor") and definitely (run if you hear this) that the attorney "knows the judge," you want someone who is willing to explore every criminal and civil option and file the motions that need to me made. Although typically frowned upon by many players in the criminal justice system, hiring an advocate willing to make motions and create the record is vital on appeal. This case highlights that; The stakes are enormous in this case that resulted in an aggregate term of 25 years (assault, weapon, attempted murder) in jail.
However, the sentence is held in abeyance. The Defendants moved pursuant to New York Criminal Procedure Law, CPL, 330.30 (2). The appeal resulted because, as the appellate court found, "The [lower] court improvidently exercised its discretion in denying, without a hearing, that branch of defendant's motion to set aside the verdict on the ground of alleged misconduct by two jurors." Id. (citing CPL 330.40  [f]). An interesting facet about this case is how such misconduct came about and that the district attorney's (The People of the State of New York) trial assistant prepared an affidavit:
The People's trial preparation assistant, who assisted the trial prosecutors, disclosed that some time after the trial and before sentencing, he received a handwritten note in the mail from the jury foreperson, stating: "Now that the trial is over . . ." (ellipsis in original), followed by the juror's first and last name, her juror number, the court part in which the trial had occurred, her phone number, and her address. The note also included a crossed-out phrase from which it could be inferred that the original version of the note had been written during the trial.
In reviewing the lower court's denial, the appellate court found that "the note itself was sufficient evidence to raise an issue of fact about whether the foreperson's apparent romantic interest in the trial preparation assistant prevented her from deliberating fairly." (citations omitted).
While some attorneys hardly carry a briefcase into lower criminal courts (i.e. traffic court, district court, Queens Criminal Court, Kings Criminal Court, etc.), the seriousness of this case would likely necessitate a series of appeals no matter what occurred but motions like this need to be made when there is a hint of misconduct - albeit a guilty verdict was found against this person, the appellate court noted that a "juror had a sufficiently close relationship with a witness to warrant a hearing as to whether that juror engaged in misconduct by failing to disclose the relationship to the court." This could be fatal to the people's case.
In hiring your criminal defense attorney: Investigation, Freedom of Information Law, Conducting Discovery and making Discovery Demands (another practice sometimes not performed by New York Criminal Defense Attorneys) should be regular practice.
Should you be accused of a criminal act or need a criminal defense attorney, call the number below. Criminal cases should not start and end inside the courthouse...
The case is People v. Gullien, 2020 NYSlipOp 00387 (Jan. 21, 2020). Cory H. Morris, Esq. New York and Florida: Injury, Addiction, Accident, Call the Law Offices of Cory H. Morris, 631-450-2515 (NYS) (954) 998-2918 (FLA).