Friday, March 07, 2014

Discharge of a Deliberating Juror

"The discharge of a deliberating juror is a sensitive undertaking and is fraught with potential for error.  It is to be done only in special circumstances, and with special precautions." Commonwealth v. Connor, 392 Mass 838(1984).

Two statutes describe the special circumstances for the discharge of a deliberating juror:  G. L. c 234, s. 26B and G. L. c. 234A, s. 39.  See also Mass. R, Crim. P. 20(d)(3).

Case law explains the special precautions, particularly Commonwealth v. Connor above.

In a recent appeal of an armed robbery conviction, the defendant contended "...that the judge's discharge of a deliberating juror was procedurally defective.  We agree the applicable protocols were not followed, and conclude that reversal is required..."  Commonwealth v. Garcia, 84 Mass. App. Ct. 760 (2014)

For more information about juries and jury service, see our page on the topic.