Sunday, March 25, 2012

Should Canadian juries be allowed to go public?

Good Day Readers:

As the high-profile Mark Stobbe trial winds down (Justice Chris Martin is expected to deliver his charge to the jury Tuesday morning March 27 at 10:00 in Courtroom 230), again it raises the question, "Should Canadian juries be allowed to go public?"

After a very "quick" review of the literature we were unable to uncover the basis in law for this practice. To do otherwise would result in a contempt of court citation and an almost certain fine and/or jail sentence. In the absence of any compelling reason(s) we say, "yes" with one very important proviso - not until all avenues of appeal have been exhausted at which point it becomes a dead case. Doing so could prove instructive and an educational tool for future juries/jurors.

Here's what happened recently in a Boston courtroom.

Clare L. Pieuk
Juror tells of screaming over Mattapan trial
By Matt Stout
Friday, March 22, 2012
Defendant Dwayne Moore (red shirt) sitting with lawyer John Amable awaits the verdict in Suffolk Superior Court.

The lone juror blamed for the deadlock in the Mattapan massacre trial had others on the panel screaming, crying and even appealing to the judge to kick her off, one juror told the Herald today.

That holdout, not identified by the juror who spoke to the Herald, resulted in 11-1 votes continuously on nine of the 19 charges in the case.

“We were robbed,” said the juror, who asked to remain anonymous but was among the 12 who yesterday acquitted Edward Washington on all charges in the September 28, 2010, quadruple homicides, but remained deadlocked on murder charges against accused triggerman Dwayne Moore.

“The victims were robbed, the defendant was robbed and the American justice system was robbed,” he said. “No one received justice by her making that decision.

Jurors deliberated for seven days, but nearly six of those were spent discussing Moore, who the juror said 11 on the panel found guilty after matching testimony from star witness Kimani Washington with phone records he said put Moore at the scene that blood-soaked night.

But a single holdout said she knew she was going to be a holdout “from the beginning” and refused to deliberate because she didn’t want to be “judged” for handing down a guilty verdict, the one juror said. By Tuesday, the fifth day of deliberations, 10 of the jurors “checked out,” the juror said, leaving him and the lone holdout to spend eight hours discussing evidence.

“If she would have said ‘not guilty’ for this reason and that reason, I would have no problem with us being deadlocked. None,” the juror said. “But she never gave a rational reason. She said, ‘This is what I think, this is what I believe. Let it go.’ ”

The holdout also didn’t want to believe critical evidence, including phone records, the juror said. “That was a scary comment to make,” he said.

By the close of the fifth day of deliberations, the panel sent a note to Judge Christine McEvoy in attempt to get the holdout removed “not because she didn’t agree” but because “she wouldn’t deliberate,” the juror said. In a sidebar with the holdout Thursday afternoon, McEvoy didn’t budge, the juror said, clearing the verdicts to be read and chaos to explode inside and outside the courtroom.

It mimicked the scene in the deliberation room,where “ferocity” ruled by day’s end, the juror said.

“There was screaming, there was yelling, there was cursing,” he said. “I did my best to maintain my composure but at the very end, I started crying.”

The juror said there wasn’t enough evidence to convict Ed Washington, a decision they reached by the second day. He said a jury in the future can find Moore guilty if they look solely at the evidence.

“I’m still emotionally charged from this,” the juror said. “And it’s going to take me several days to get back to an emotional place of peace. It’s one thing for you to say to me, ‘I disagree.’ But if you refuse to tell me why you disagree, that’s messed up.”


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