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Univ. of South Carolina School of Law

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Friday, August 22, 2014

What Happens in the Jury Room: Convicted Texas Defendant Seeks to Impeach Jury's Verdict

According to an article in the Hill Country News,

Greg Kelley’s new defense attorney Keith Hampton filed a motion for a new trial last week that says the 19-year-old former Leander High School football player was denied a fair trial "because 12 jurors never concluded he was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt."

Specifically,

According to a sworn affidavit filed with the motion for a new trial, one of the jurors who convicted Kelley states that, "I thought the prosecution’s case against Greg Kelley was trash… I was not persuaded Greg Kelley was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt."

Speaking to the media outside the Williamson County Courthouse last Wednesday morning, Jake Brydon — one of Kelley’s most vocal supporters —said that some of the jurors simply went along with the others in voting for conviction to avoid being sequestered. Brydon said the juror’s affidavit states that the jurors who did vote to convict Kelley did so not because of reasons of evidence or proof demonstrated in court, but because of Kelley’s mannerisms or how his defense attorney presented herself.

So, how likely is it that Kelley will be successful? Not very.

Kelley's case is in Texas, and, similar to its federal counterpart, Texas Rule of Evidence 606(b) provides that

Upon an inquiry into the validity of a verdict or indictment, a juror may not testify as to any matter or statement occurring during the jury's deliberations, or on any juror's mind or emotions or mental processes, as influencing any juror's assent to or dissent from the verdict or indictment. Nor may a juror's affidavit or any statement by a juror concerning any matter about which the juror would be precluded from testifying be admitted in evidence for any of these purposes. However, a juror may testify: (1) whether any outside influence was improperly brought to bear upon any juror; or (2) to rebut a claim that the juror was not qualified to serve.

Unfortunately for Kelley, each of the three juror statements are referenced in the introduction would be inadmissible under Rule 606(b). First, we can look at another Texas case -- Colyer v. State, 395 S.W.3d 277 (Tex.App.-Fort Worth 2013) -- for the clear conclusion that a juror stating after the fact that he "was not persuaded" by the prosecution's case is inadmissible under the Rule. Obviously, this relates to the mental process of the juror.

Second, in State v. Hudson, 658 A.2d 531 (Vt. 1995), the defendant sought to have jurors impeach their verdict with evidence that certain members of the jury complained that they wanted to finish quickly because they were sequestered and needed to get back to work or to attend social engagements. The Supreme Court of Vermont turned aside this argument, finding that these were internal statements made by jury members during deliberations rather than external influences.

Finally, we can look to Carruthers v. State, 145 S.W.3d 85 (Ct.Crim.App.Tenn. 2003), for an indication of how Kelley's court will deal with his mannerism argument. In Carruthers, the court concluded:

The juror's communications about the Defendant's mannerisms did not come from a source outside the jury but, rather, were observations by the jurors during trial. We conclude that Jurors 120 and 127's communications concerning the Defendant's mannerisms were not external influences with the ambit of Rule 606(b). These mannerisms may have caused Jurors 120 and 127 to have a negative opinion of the Defendant; however, it is not information from a source outside the jury.

-CM

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/evidenceprof/2014/08/according-to-an-article-in-the-hill-country-news-greg-kelleys-new-defense-attorney-keith-hampton-filed-a-motion-for-a.html

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