Thursday, September 16, 2004

Spirited Jury Deliberations

NYTimes, story by Michael Wilson, Section B1 (Sept. 16, 2004):
...Juror No. 4 took the stand and admitted he had filled his 16-ounce Poland Spring bottle, half with vodka, half with water, nipping at it during the four hours of deliberation .... He had drained two-thirds of the bottle during deliberations, and after the verdict was read he took a last "big swig" ....

...

Yesterday, Justice Ellen M. Coin of State Supreme Court in Manhattan issued her ruling: the verdict [against a firefighter accused of stealing at Gound Zero] should stand.

Justice Coin apparently adhered to the traditional rule that evidence of outside influences is admissible to "impeach" a jury verdict but, following considerable precedent, she also concluded that this exception did not apply. She was clearly on the button: spirits are a classic example of internal influence.
[... twitter, twitter ...{hint, hint: joke, joke}]
BTW: a Delaware court's reasoning [quoted by the NYTimes reporter] has a has a kind of probabilistic twinge: "Juror ... intoxication does not necessarily equal bias against the accused." Theory: alcoholic spirits are a bit like a coins or dice: drunken jurors are not prejudiced against or for criminal defendants. This is because, we must assume, the besotted brained of a besotted juror is not influenced, one way or another, by the status of a person as a criminal defendant.
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