Defendant Identifies Evidence of Extraneous Influence on a Juror

The United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit rendered an opinion in U.S. v. Talman Harris on February 5, 2018.  Mr. Harris was convicted of a variety of charges relating to securities fraud.   On appeal, he raised a number of issues and one related to juror misconduct.  Harris’s trial was from August 24, 2016 through September 7, 2016.  On September 6, 2016, he got an automated notification from Linkedin showing other users that had viewed his profile.  Harris determined that one of the people that he did not know personally that viewed his profile was Christian Goleno.  Harris search Mr. Goleno’s Facebook page and was able to determine that his live-in girlfriend was Juror 12.  Harris surmised that Juror 12 and Goleno was discussing the case during the trial and that they may have found facts that were suppressed from presentation at trial like the fact FINRA had permanently bared him from trading securities.  Harris sought to take evidence from Juror 12, or alternatively to interview Juror 12, to determine if any misconduct occurred and any impact it may have had on the verdict.  The government argued Harris had not made a “colorable claim of extraneous influence” and the trial court agreed.

The United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit determined that although Harris was not able to demonstrate that Juror 12 was exposed to extraneous information, he presented enough information to conclude there was a "colorable claim of extraneous influence."  They therefore concluded that the trial court abused its discretion in denying the motion to take testimony for Juror 12.  The case was remanded to the trial court to hold a hearing, take testimony from Juror 12 and determine if defendant Harris was prejudiced by Juror 12.     

Resolution to Extend Batson to LGBT Community

On February 5, 2018, the ABA House of Delegates passed Resolution 108D. The resolution urged courts to extend the protections of Batson to the LGBT community and prohibit the use of peremptory challenges to remove jurors which are based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity and expression. The resolution was co-sponsored by the National LGBT Bar Association.  

Odd Event Leads to Juror Removal

The New Haven Register reported on February 6, 2018 that a juror hearing the murder trial of Dwayne Sayles  in Connecticut had an interesting piece of information for the court. She reported that while she was at a jail visiting her husband, Mr. Sayles saw her and waived to her. As a result of this chance encounter, she reported that she was concerned for her safety. It was also quickly determined that during voir dire she indicated that she didn’t know anyone that “had been arrested and is in jail.” This obviously wasn't true.  Over the objection of the counsel for the defense, Superior Court Judge Brian T. Fischer removed the juror and replaced her with an alternate. He further ordered that deliberations begin anew. 

The Grand Jury: A Shield of a Different Sort

R. Michael Cassidy a Professor of Law at Boston College Law School, and Julian A. Cook, III, a Professor of Law at the University of Georgia School of Law, published a law review article titled The Grand Jury: A Shield of a Different Sort. It was originally published in the Georgia Law Review, Vol. 51, No. 4, 2017 but became available on the Social Sciences Research Network website on February 7, 2018. The abstract to the article states:

According to the Washington Post, 991 people were shot to death by police officers in the United States during calendar year 2015, and 957 people were fatally shot in 2016. A disproportionate percentage of the citizens killed in these police-civilian encounters were black. Events in Ferguson, Missouri; Chicago, Illinois; Charlotte, North Carolina; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; and Staten Island, New York - to name but a few affected cities - have now exposed deep distrust between communities of color and law enforcement. Greater transparency is necessary to begin to heal this culture of distrust and to inform the debate going forward about police practices in America.

The recent spate of deadly police-civilian encounters has generated enormous media coverage, national discourse, and a proliferation of recommended solutions. In this Essay, we will suggest three modest but important reforms to the grand jury process that we think will help increase transparency, reduce the legitimacy deficit, and restore public confidence in what are admittedly very difficult charging decisions involving the police use of deadly force. Part I examines grand jury secrecy rules in the context of externally created evidence (e.g., dash-cam and body-cam videos) and argues for a uniform, interpretive approach consistent with that followed by a majority of states. Part II discusses evidence presentation before the- grand jury and urges the adoption of a rule that mandates the recording of grand jury instructions. Finally, Part III argues that state criminal procedure rules should be amended to empower states' attorneys to move the court for the public release of redacted grand jury minutes in instances when a no-bill is returned and it is in the public interest. 


Upcoming Events

February 9, 2018

Jur-E Bulletin is a publication of the Center for Jury Studies.

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