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Define That Term #148

NY Court of Appeals Considers Allegations of Juror Impropriety

Last week, in People v. Pizarro, 2006 NY Slip Op 06506, the New York Court of Appeals upheld a defendant's murder conviction, despite allegations made by the foreperson of the jury that another  "juror concealed his personal knowledge about the case during jury selection, sought to share outside-the-record information with his fellow jurors during deliberations, and, after the jury foreperson short-circuited and reported his attempted disclosures, lied to the trial court."

The Court of Appeals concluded that it was bound by the Appellate Division's factual conclusions since the conclusions were supported by the record.  The Appellate Division held that based on the following facts, the trial court properly determined that the the whole thing was simply a misunderstanding:

The trial judge conducted a day-long hearing to investigate the foreperson's allegations against the juror, whom the judge interviewed three times. The juror denied under oath possessing non-evidentiary knowledge about the case. The trial judge also questioned every other juror regarding the truth of the allegations. Based on his inquiries, the trial judge concluded that the juror did not have personal knowledge related to the case and had not tried to convey outside-the-record information to other jurors. Moreover, all 12 jurors assured the trial judge that they would decide the case impartially, based on the evidence alone.

While I understand the basis for the Court of Appeal's decision and don't necessarily disagree with it, I find myself once again puzzled by the underlying facts.  It feels to me as if a we haven't really heard the whole story and that a vital piece of information is missing, although I have no idea what it could be.  Any ideas? 


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