Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Back to Square One with the Scrushy Jury

U.S. District Judge Karon Bowdre sent the jury in the prosecution of Richard Scrushy back to the beginning by replacing a juror, whose recent health problems had caused the jury to miss three days of deliberations, with one of the alternates alternate.  Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 24(c)(3) (here) provides in part that "[i]f an alternate replaces a juror after deliberations have begun, the court must instruct the jury to begin its deliberations anew."  The judge kept alternate jurors available, which is permitted under the same Rule although not required, in case of this very situation in which a juror would need to be replaced, .  I suspect that while the deliberations have been painful for the jurors, the wait for the alternates must be excruciating because Rule 24(c)(3) also states that "[t]he court must ensure that a retained alternate does not discuss the case with anyone until that alternate replaces a juror or is discharged."  Is being an alternate on this jury cruel and unusual punishment?  An AP story (here) discusses the judge's ruling replacing the juror. (ph)

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