Monday, May 9, 2011

Even with a Judge on the Jury, the Jury can Hang

Unusual story from the Columbus Dispatch this morning about a hung jury in the trial of an Ohio motorist in the the death of cyclist--turns out that the jury that could not reach a verdict included a state court judge.  This is from reporter John Futty's account:

Judge Glaeden
"Courtroom observers were surprised when a Franklin County judge wound up as a juror in the case of a man accused of killing a bicyclist in Hilliard.  So was the judge, Carrie E. Glaeden.

'No, not at all,' she said when asked if she expected to be seated during the jury-selection process in late March. 'By and large, the thinking is you don't want someone with a legal background on a jury. You don't want someone with outside knowledge.'

But neither the prosecution nor the defense used a challenge to excuse her, and she became the first alternate for the Common Pleas jury. As the trial stretched into a second week, one of the jurors was excused because of a scheduling conflict, and Glaeden took her seat.

The jury deliberated for nearly 12 hours after hearing seven days of testimony but was unable to reach a verdict on either count against Edward Scott Miller, charged with causing the death of bicyclist Steven Barbour by driving recklessly and while impaired by alcohol.

Glaeden, a Municipal Court judge for seven years, wouldn't discuss how she voted or why jurors became deadlocked because the case is to be retried in June. But she said she declined a suggestion that she serve as forewoman and tried to blend in with the rest of the jury.  'I made a good effort, and I think I succeeded in not taking more of a role than being an equal member of the 12,' she said. 'I didn't try to assert myself. ... There were 11 other strong, independent jurors.'

Miller's attorney, D. Timothy Huey, said a major concern about judges sitting on juries is that their opinion will be seen by other jurors as carrying more weight.  'Hypothetically, you want every juror's vote to count equally,' he said.  For Miller's trial, a particularly emotional case, Huey said it made sense to include on the jury a judge who 'is able to set aside the natural sympathies that people might have toward one side or the other. A judge is better able to be a true finder of fact, rather than be swayed by emotion.'

At least two other sitting judges in Franklin County have served on juries during their time on the bench. Domestic Relations Judge James W. Mason served on a Common Pleas jury in a rape and kidnapping case in 2000. Municipal Judge H. William Pollitt Jr. sat on a Common Pleas jury in a burglary case in 2001.  In both cases, the juries acquitted the defendant.  Like Glaeden, both judges were surprised to be seated on a jury.

'I thought either the prosecution or the defense would give me the boot,' Pollitt said.

Mason said he turned down an offer to serve as foreman to avoid the perception that he 'exerted undue influence' over his fellow jurors. But he conceded that he 'gently led the jury to the right conclusion' in returning not-guilty verdicts for a man accused of raping a live-in girlfriend.

Pollitt said he also refused to serve as foreman.  'I didn't want to run the show,' he said. 'But frankly, you know the other jurors are going to defer to you. A lot of them are going to follow your lead.'  Pollitt speculated that, in most cases, the defense attorney would be more reluctant than the prosecutor to place a judge on a jury in a criminal case.

But defense attorney Lou Friscoe, whose client was acquitted by the jury that included Mason, said 'it depends on the judge and the facts.'  He said the rape case essentially was a domestic dispute about sex between two people who lived together, so he thought it made sense to include a domestic-relations judge on the jury.  As a member of the Ohio House, Mason served as chairman of the Judiciary Committee and sponsored legislation that in 1998 eliminated an automatic exemption from jury duty for public officials, including judges.

'I've practiced law as a lawyer, taught law at Capital University, made law as a legislator and enforced laws as a judge,'  Mason said. 'I had done everything but serve on a jury, and I assumed I never would.'
Glaeden said she has served as 'a jury of one' on more than 250 cases in her courtroom for minor-misdemeanor offenses or when defendants waived their right to a jury.  'When I'm a lone juror, I have to make all the decisions myself,'  she said. While serving on the Miller jury, 'it was nice to have 11 other people to confer with.'"
A few years ago, the BSL (Blond Super Lawyer) a prominent OurState Labor and Employment (defense)counsel was seated on a high profile case involving allegations of breach of contract and counterclaims of corruption, forgery and embezzlement by the former director of the metropolitan housing authority.  We were surprised when she was not excused from this panel.  Ultimately she was selected by her fellow jurors as the foreperson.  That jury awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars on the counterclaim against the plaintiff, the former director of metropolitan housing.  Evidence and testimony offered at the trial resulted in criminal charges against the plaintiff and one of her witnesses, a fake hand-writing expert.  The hand-writing expert killed himself in the wake of his indictment.


  1. Good God, this must be the wimpiest judge on the bench. Can not imagine a judge not taking charge of a jury and moving the decision one way or the other. It would be interesting if you told us or if you knew how the trial judge reacted to the information that the jury was deadlocked.

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