Thursday, August 27, 2015

United States v. Christensen, No. 08-50531 (8-25-15)(Clifton with Fisher; partial concurrence and dissent by Christensen).  This is an appeal from various RICO convictions stemming from illegal wiretaps and investigations conducted by a private investigator.  There were many issues raised; some relief, all intertwined with this involved case.   However, the most interesting issue was the excusing of a juror (#7) by the court.  The court excused the juror because of his refusal to deliberate, or his belief in nullification, coupled with statements he supposedly made about taxes and wiretapping.  He denied making these statements.  The court sided with the other jurors who said juror #7 did, and found that the juror was lying.   The majority looks to the district court to assess credibility, and that falls to demeanor.  However, as the dissent stresses, there was obvious disagreement, and feelings were running high.  The court never asked the juror is he could or would follow the law.  That was the error.  The dissent is good at stressing the need for juror secrecy, and the deference courts must give to jurors and their assessment of the evidence.

The decision is here:


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