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Satori
05-10-04, 23:28
I guess it's not okay for attorneys to fall asleep at the defense table, but it is okay for a jury of your peers who decide your fate to consume alcohol during lunch breaks, use cocaine and marijuana, and even fall asleep during the trial. :eek2: It's interesting to note the differences in the laws in other countries vs. the U.S. on this issue.


Court: Verdict stands, even though juror was tanked on vodka
Fri Oct 1, 5:12 PM ET
By Samantha Murphy, Court TV

NEW YORK (Court TV) -- New Yorkers can not only booze up before serving jury duty, but can also snooze through trial proceedings, according to a ruling handed down by the state's Supreme Court.

After firefighter Samuel Brandon, 60, was found guilty in March of stealing 9/11 souvenirs from the World Trade Center site, he ran into one of the jurors outside the courthouse.

A visibly drunk John Anastas, 57, approached the defendant and offered to grab a beer with him, according to Brandon's lawyer, Ronald Kliegerman.

"We were out on the street and I could just smell the alcohol on him," Kliegerman said. "He was so inebriated."

When the defense team learned that Anastas had pounded vodka and water from a Poland Spring bottle during jury deliberations, lawyers immediately filed an appeal on the grounds of juror misconduct.

The plastered panelist, however, actually had the law on his side.

New York Supreme Court Justice Ellen Coin refused to overturn the firefighter's conviction on Sept. 15, 2004, by ruling that Anastas's behavior was just shy of legal misconduct.

Drinking precedent

As outlandish as it sounds, Coin's decision was based on a rarely cited 1987 U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

In that case, several jurors allegedly consumed alcohol during the trial's lunch breaks, used cocaine and marijuana, and even slept through hearings.

The defendants -- a Floridian power plant procurement manager and an outside contractor who were convicted on charges of defraud conspiracy -- filed a motion for a new trial after the defense attorney was informed that jurors were often incoherent during the trial.

Jurors testified that some of their fellow panelists were often "in a sort of giggly mood" due to intoxication, and others would sleep through the afternoon trial.

According to the U.S. Supreme Court's Federal Rules of Evidence, juror testimony cannot be used to impeach a verdict, except when certain outside influences are inflicted upon a jury.

The court, however, does not recognize juror intoxication as severe enough "outside influence" or "juror misconduct" to sway a verdict.

"Drugs or alcohol voluntarily ingested by a juror -- however severe their effect and improper their use -- seem not more an outside influence than a virus, poorly prepared food, or lack of sleep," the 11th circuit of the United States Court of Appeals ruled before the case was sent to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The 17-year-old ruling offers little legal recourse for firefighter Brandon and his defense team.

"We are still very upset," Kliegerman said. "We were entitled to a jury of six people, but only five of them were awake and focused. I don't see how this is fair."

Though other jurors knew Anastas was intoxicated often during the trial, Kliegerman said they chose not to come forward with the information.

"It's a natural tendency for jury members to not want to get involved and become a witness for the next three years in a new case," he said.

All five jurors ultimately testified against Anastas, claiming he was "annoying" during the trial and extremely "unfocused."

Bombed jurors abroad

Though drunk jurors in the United States cannot void a verdict, other countries treat wasted panelists much differently.

During the 1998 trial of a accused rapist in Edinburgh, Scotland, juror James Smith, 51, celebrated his birthday in court with a similar vodka-in-a-water-bottle ploy. The jury may have found the defendant not guilty, but the judge found Smith not sober. The defendant walked free; the juror walked away with a fine of about $1,000.

Likewise, during the trial of an accused kidnapper in Plymouth Crown, England, the judge halted the trial when one juror stumbled back from lunch wasted. He dismissed the entire jury and sent the smashed panelist to jail for a night.

By contrast, the U.S law protects the verdict by not forcing jurors to regarding previous deliberations. This is relevant in all cases except with jury tampering.

"Sometimes you won't know right away if a juror is drunk or impaired," said Richard Willstatter, a defense lawyer in White Plains, N.Y., who has specialized in federal criminal cases for 15 years. "In [Brandon's] case, it wasn't known until after the verdict was made. The next step would call for hearings to see whether the verdict was derived under 'outside influence.'"

Although Anastas made a clean getaway, the ruling has renewed the controversy surrounding drunk jurors and alerted lawyers on both sides of trials to closely watch the jury box.

"If something happens in a jury room and you see a juror drunk, you would want to boot his ass off the jury as fast as you can," Willstatter said.

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=99&e=2&u=/ct/20041001/cr_ct/courtverdictstandseventhoughjurorwastankedonvodka



:souka:

Winter
05-10-04, 23:53
Darn toutin'...alkoholicks still have are writes...*hic*

cicatriz esp
06-10-04, 01:07
Jurors on cocaine could actually be a good thing. Heaven knows all the lawyers are already on it.

Lina Inverse
06-10-04, 01:34
Now that's once again the American law in its full "glory" :D
Of course a law that convicts a restaurant to pay a wicked high fine to a customer that himself shed hot coffee over his lap, won't do anything about jurors on crack :D

Satori
06-10-04, 04:24
Darn toutin'...alkoholicks still have are writes...*hic*

:D :D That is sooo funny!! :p

When I read this part of the story, all I could think was, You gotta love the '80s!! :p


As outlandish as it sounds, Coin's decision was based on a rarely cited 1987 U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

In that case, several jurors allegedly consumed alcohol during the trial's lunch breaks, used cocaine and marijuana, and even slept through hearings.

I can just picture them all giggling too!!! :p


Jurors on cocaine could actually be a good thing. Heaven knows all the lawyers are already on it.

I know! It would sure keep a lot of jurors awake through some very boring technical trials!! :p

Most lawyers were on cocaine back in the '80s. Not so sure about these days, as a lot of them had to go through detox. I was talking to a fellow paralegal a few years ago who used to work in the L.A. area, and we were discussing the changes in lawyer behavior through the various decades. In the '70s, everyone was into getting drunk (disco era). In fact, there were times when you'd get on the elevator after lunch and think, Don't anyone light any matches or else this entire elevator will go up in flames! :p In the '80s, a lot of lawyers would return from lunch with white powder under their noses (guess they weren't as careful as they should have been). Of course, at other times they might return from lunch with their shirts on inside out, so you never knew for sure! :p Then, in the '90s, it seemed everyone was wired on coffee, as that seemed to be the new drug of choice!! :p


Now that's once again the American law in its full "glory" :D Absolutely!! :p


Of course a law that convicts a restaurant to pay a wicked high fine to a customer that himself shed hot coffee over his lap, won't do anything about jurors on crack :D

Are you referring to the McDonald's case? If so, that case wasn't as frivolous as most people assume. First of all, McDonald's coffee was way too hot, much hotter than the coffee at Burger King or any other fast food joint. And the temperature was increased solely for profit margin. Second, and more important, the coffee spilled on a woman's lap while she was sitting in the passenger seat, and the burns were so extensive, she had to have plastic surgery on her genitalia. Now that's coffee thats way too hot--and all in the name of profit for McDonald's!! So after hearing the facts of that case, I have to say I was glad to see them get sued. :cool:

Miss_apollo7
08-10-04, 14:55
This was a funny article! :D
Let us turn the courts into bars!!! Then it will be more cheerful and also more interesting to follow a case....:D

*kidding of course*

Lina Inverse
09-10-04, 19:09
This was a funny article! :D
Let us turn the courts into bars!!! Then it will be more cheerful and also more interesting to follow a case....:D
Yeah! Let's also invite crack dealers so all jurors can get properly stoned before trial! :D

Miss_apollo7
09-10-04, 22:02
Yeah! Let's also invite crack dealers so all jurors can get properly stoned before trial! :D

Agree! I have witnessed many cases when people are brought before the the judge and it would be more interesting and entertaining if they all were stoned....I don't think it would work though I am afraid...:D

Satori
09-10-04, 22:32
Agree! I have witnessed many cases when people are brought before the the judge and it would be more interesting and entertaining if they all were stoned....I don't think it would work though I am afraid...:D

Considering the mess the defendants are in at the time, I'm sure they wish they were stoned!! :p

Duo
09-10-04, 22:35
I dont think that one incident like this is worth making supercilious cracks and attacks on the US judicial system; let's not forget, it is one of the most revolutionary, liberal minded for when it was created. And, it is a driven by a completely different philosophy than those here in europe, which is not a bad thing; sometimes the european courts are way way 2 slow, taking forever to come to a decision. The only negative things I have to say about the US judicial system is that at times a trial is not always about the truth, but just a conest between the lawyers, becouse of the antagonistic style of it, and the death penalty.