Monday, February 10, 2014

When You Hug The DA

The Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals has affirmed a conviction for aggravated domestic assault and kidnapping.

One of the issues related to the conduct of a juror, who was dismissed from service after hugging the district attorney during a break in the proceedings.

In the case herein, the trial court inquired whether extra-judicial communication occurred between the district attorney and the juror. The juror testified during a hearing to the trial court that she gave the district attorney a hug because he was her “cousin.” The juror denied sharing this experience with any of the other jurors on the panel. The trial court went on to poll each individual member of the jury separately in order to ascertain whether the juror in question had discussed her interaction with the district attorney. All of the jurors denied knowledge of the event. The trial court dismissed the offending juror and admonished the remaining jurors about their task to determine the proof based on the facts presented during trial and the law as charged by the court. The trial court did not find the communication to be prejudicial. In fact, the trial court found the communication harmless. We agree. Appellant has not shown prejudice or bias in the remaining jury and is, therefore, not entitled to relief on this issue.

Thus, it was not error to deny the mistrial motion. (Mike Frisch)

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