Thursday, October 1, 2009

Cameron Brown Retrial: New Developments

I was not in courtroom 107 this morning but fortunately Dr. Carroll Adams was.

The jury is using courtroom 108's jury room for their deliberations. According to Dr. Adams,

About 11am, just when the other jury was returning from a break, we got a note from the Brown jury. The question was should they allow a juror who looked up the word "malice" in a dictionary to use this during deliberations. Pat Harris arrived at noon, as did Pat Dixon standing up for Craig Hum who is at a hearing in Torrance. Needless to say, Judge Pastor was livid about the juror violating instructions, especially since there have been other questions about all forms of malice.

Bottom line is at 08:20 am Friday 2 Oct all attorneys on Brown will meet in D107. The Brown jury will be there at 08:30 am at which point Juror #7 (the foreperson) will answer questions. Probably so will the juror who used the dictionary. Then maybe the rest of the jurors.

Today Brown was not brought into D107, but he will be in the room Friday.

Friday will be interesting. I hope I can get up early enough to cover the proceedings.


Jobeth66 said...

Wow. Even if they convict, there may be a LOT of grounds for Geragos to appeal from in this one.

Sprocket said...

I suspect the juror will be replaced. They violated instructions. End of story. But it remains to be seen what happens tomorrow.

Omama said...

Sprocket - Do you know how many alternates are left?

Sprocket said...


There are three alternates left. One man and two women IIRC.

Susan said...

Sprocket, do you know which juror took out his dictionary? I'm wondering if it was #4, the one who said he wanted out of the jury earlier. Maybe he knew this was the way to get replaced.

Anonymous said...

Would this be cause for a mistrial or appeal?

Sprocket said...

I only know what I've already posted. I'm sure we will find out tomorrow.

If the juror is removed that might be enough of a remedy. I don't know if it's enough to throw the trial or solid grounds for appeal.

We'll just have to wait and see.

Ronni said...

I have to wonder why the juror failed to follow instructions. Wasn't it in Peterson that one of the jurors looked something up on line, and was replaced?

Praying it's not grounds for mistrial. Praying that it's not grounds for appeal.

Sprocket said...

I'm sure deliberations are quite heated in the jury room, with different jurors having a different perspective on the word "malice."

But the law is clear, and jury instructions are clear. Jurors are not to do independent research.

Judge Pastor, at the end of each court day, very forcefully read an instruction to the jurors not to read about the case, not to go onto the internet, blogs, twitter, myspace, not to watch the news, etc., not to do independent research, such as use a dictionary.

Those are clear instructions that they received every day at the end of testimony. What is so hard to understand about that?

Before this incident, there were already several questions that came out regarding the word "malice."

There is a very fine definition of malice written into the law. Jurors are supposed to follow the law, follow jury instructions.

I can't wait to see how Pastor will rule.

Katprint said...

Sprocket, I'm sure your right that the judge was very clear about the jurors not looking things up in the dictionary.

I don't have a copy of the actual jury instructions given, but normally the judge would have given #101 "Cautionary Admonitions - Jury Conduct" which include the instruction (second sentence in paragraph 5):

"Do not use a dictionary, the Internet, or other reference materials."

Betty said...

If Brown is convicted it could be grounds for appeal, but I think Sprocket is right that jury deliberations will continue.

I'm not a lawyer but as I understand it and Sprocket will correct me if I'm wrong but there's the notion of harmless error.

In weighing whether to grant a mistrial the judge has to consider the prejudice that has been infected into the jury room and whether it can be fixed with a curative instruction. In this case the jury has not been exposed to prejudicial evidence that had been suppressed by the judge. If the jury had been exposed to damaging evidence about the defendants character than the judge would have no choice but to declare a mistrial.

For instance in the Phil Spector case the judge allowed multiple women testify that Spector menaced them with a gun. If he hadn't and one of the jurors introduced a newspaper article about the prior bad acts no curative instruction would have been possible to unring that bell.

In this case though all the jury has been exposed to is a dictionary definition of a word. Not prejudicial evidence. The judge can give a strong curative instruction telling the jury they are to completely disregard what they read in the dictionary, that they are to base their verdict solely on what they have heard in the courtroom and on his instructions, and I think an appeals court, if necessary will find that suffices.

Sprocket said...


I think you are almost exactly on target... and I don't even have my entry covering today finished yet!

The quick answer is, nothing is decided yet because all the jurors have not been polled. One juror could not make it to court today. I'll have an entry up in a couple of hours, detailing what went on in court today.