Monday, October 27, 2008

Update on the Stevens Deliberations

The Washington Post (AP) story is titled, Judge Removes Juror in Sen. Stevens's Trial.  When a judge replaces a juror with an alternate, it is necessary that the jury start the deliberations from the beginning.  Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure, Rule 24(c)(3) states:

Retaining Alternate Jurors.

The court may retain alternate jurors after the jury retires to deliberate. The court must ensure that a retained alternate does not discuss the case with anyone until that alternate replaces a juror or is discharged. If an alternate replaces a juror after deliberations have begun, the court must instruct the jury to begin its deliberations anew.

If the jury deliberation went for a long period of time, this could be difficult as it may be difficult to remember in the new deliberations what had, and had not, already been discussed.  But perhaps with the simpler case, and with a deliberation that has not been extensive, this may be easier. 

For Senator Stevens (and perhaps his opponent) in the Senate race, a different clock is running as election day is close at hand. This raises interesting questions on whether it is proper to indict a person immediately prior to their election or re-election to office.  On one hand, if there is a conviction the public has a right to know this prior to the election or re-election of the candidate.  On the other hand, if there is no conviction, the negative publicity prior to voting day and the candidate's inability to fully campaign because they have a trial to contend with can be harmful to the election process.


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