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Univ. of San Diego School of Law

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Saturday, July 23, 2005

"Go to Hell"--No Grounds for Foreman's Removal

From Law.com: (Fulton County Daily Report): "The Court of Appeals of Georgia has ruled that a jury foreman should not have been removed from a case for telling jurors to "go to hell" during deliberations, so the defendant is entitled to a new trial on drug-dealing charges in Lowndes County, Ga.  The appeals court ruled 4-3 on July 7 that Southern Judicial Circuit Chief Judge H. Arthur McLane abused his discretion when he dismissed the foreman solely for using vulgar insults....The jury deadlocked at 10-2 in favor of conviction...The foreman was one of the two supporting acquittal, and after McLane removed him, the jury returned with a conviction in 16 minutes later...[T]he foreman did not threaten jurors physically, and McLane had not tried a less drastic approach, such as admonishing the deadlocked jury to deliberate with civility.  'While we certainly do not condone the use of vulgar or coarse language among jurors, 'total placidity is not in the nature of jury deliberation,'" wrote Bernes, quoting from U.S. v. Tallman, 952 F2d 164, a 1991 decision of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals." Story... [Mark Godsey]

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