SAN DIEGO JUDGE COMMITS MISCONDUCT BY TALKING TO JURORS DURING DELIBERATIONS - CASE REVERSED
CONVERSATIONS BETWEEN THE JURORS AND THE JUDGE - STRICTLY PROHIBITED!
In one of the strangest cases ever in San Diego County, San Diego Superior Court Judge John Thompson was severly admonished and a felony case reversed based on the judge's improper contacts with jurors during deliberations. What is even more bizaare is that after the defense attorneys somehow found out about this serious misconduct, the judge just couldn't seem to remember what he told the jurors.
Let's set the scene. The jurors in a felony case were hung. They just couldn't decide what to do. What normally occurs is that the trial judge calls the defense attorney and the prosecutor back into the court, and then calls the jury in to inquire if additional deliberations would help.
Not in this case. The trial judge decided to take matters into his own hands and just bypass the defense attorney and the prosecutor. Who needs 'em. Forget the defendant, while we're at it. The jury said they were hung and they had questions. So the judge offered to go and talk to the jury, and to give them examples of malice, without counsel or the reporter present. And the judge did. Six times.
Lo and behold, the jury came back guilty. When everyone tried to reconstruct what the judge had told the jury - all six times, over and over and over again - well, the judge wasn't too clear on all that. Isn't it amazing how one's memory fails when one is caught with one's pants down? Amazing how that happens.
The California Court of Appeal is astounded and amazed. The California Court of Appeal is upset. Excuse me, judge, but didn't you know that this is interfering with the deliberative process of the jury? The Califoria Court of Appeals reverses the conviction since the inability to reconstruct precisely what the judge said precludes meaningful appellate review.
Practice Pointer: Don't let the judge chat up your jury in your absence, OK?
People v. Bradford; 2007 DJ DAR 13969; DJ, 9/10/07; C/A 4th