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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: jurors

Ohioan on 1st jury at old, new courthouses

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio woman called to jury duty on the first day at a new county courthouse this week also was on the first jury at the old court building when it opened in 1973.

Jury commissioner Gretchen Roberts in Columbus says 64-year-old Mary Evans beat odds that are “pretty astronomical.”

Registered voters are randomly picked by computer for jury service on given dates.

Evans, of suburban Grove City, tells The Columbus Dispatch that it was “kind of cool” that she inaugurated both Franklin County Common Pleas Courthouses.

She says each struck her as an impressive reflection of its time.

Evans was seated Monday on a jury for a domestic violence case when the new, $105 million courthouse opened. In 1973, she served on juries for rape and theft cases.

Hundreds of state convictions in doubt

BELLINGHAM, Wash. (AP) — At least 17 criminal convictions in Whatcom County could be overturned on appeal because jurors were questioned inside a judge's chambers, possibly violating the defendants' rights to a public trial.

The Bellingham Herald reports appeals courts have been overturning cases based on state Supreme Court rulings and sending them back for new trials.

Pam Loginsky with the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys says similar appeals could affect hundreds of cases statewide.

In Spokane, legal experts say at least one case and no more than a few overall could be affected.

The association has asked the state Supreme Court to revisit a 1995 ruling in a Whatcom County case on public trials.

Bizarre jury verdict leads to mistrial

Wails from a victim’s daughter filled the courtroom just after the judge read what was presented as a unanimous acquittal. But seconds later, a juror said she didn’t agree with the verdict. Then five more said the same thing.  

The bizarre series of events, which several longtime Spokane County court officials said they’d never before seen, led to a mistrial Thursday in the vehicular homicide and assault trial of a Spokane stockbroker who broadsided a motorcycle in June 2009, killing the passenger, Lorri Keller, (right) and paralyzing the driver, her husband, Gary Keller.

A new trial for Jon A. Strine, 43, (above) is expected to begin in March.

The Keller family declined comment. Strine and his lawyer, premier private defense attorney Carl Oreskovich, also declined comment.

Deputy Prosecutor Mary Ann Brady said she was “so surprised by what happened.”

But, she said, “This was a very tough case…Sometimes people just can’t agree.” 

The 12 jurors left without speaking to media.

“I know this has been extremely difficult for everyone,” Judge Tari Etizen (left) said in court.

Read my full story here.

Past coverage:

Jan. 21: Husband recounts fatal crash

June 25, 2009: Driver sued over deadly wreck

June 4, 2009: School district on crash victim: 'Everybody just loved her'

Jurors want to pay man they acquitted

CLEVELAND (AP) — At least three jurors in Cleveland say the evidence was so thin against a man jailed for weeks in an assault case that they want to give him their juror pay.

The jury quickly acquitted 19-year-old Demrick McCloud on Friday. He'd been charged with leading other teens to beat a high school student and threaten him with a gun on Oct. 13. McCloud was arrested that day and held in jail until the trial.

The three jurors tell The Plain Dealer newspaper there was a “sheer lack of evidence,” so they'll each give McCloud the $100 they were paid for jury service if he earns a high school equivalency degree.

A prosecutor's spokesman maintains in a statement that the victim was steadfast in identifying McCloud as an attacker.

Sleepy juror removed from Strine trial

A juror was removed from a vehicular homicide trial today after falling asleep and telling a judge it was OK she'd missed testimony because she already knew the topic well.

“I was marginally OK until she volunteered the last part,” said Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen.

The woman told the judge she already understood phlebotomy after she was confronted about sleeping during testimony regarding the subject on Tuesday, the third day of trial for Jon A. Strine, who is charged with vehicular homicide and vehicular assault for a June 2, 2009, crash that killed Lorri Keller (pictured) and left her husband, Gary Keller, paralyzed.

The woman apologized repeatedly after Eitzen told her today that she could no longer serve on the jury because “every single juror has to have the same information.”

“I feel really bad,” said the woman, who appeared to be in her late 30s or early 40s.

One of three alternates, who have been present for the entire trial, took her place.

Deputy Prosecutor Mary Ann Brady didn't call for the woman's removal, but Strine's lawyer, Carl Oreskovich, said she shouldn't proceed with the trial.

“This is a case that has to be decided based upon evidence,” he said.

The trial, which began with opening statements Thursday afternoon and continued Monday, has included testimony from Keller and several civilian witnesses who responded to the crash at Fourth and Browne.

The testimony from those witnesses was emotional, and preceded testimony from the lead crash investigator, Spokane police Cpl. Brad Hallock.

Other witnesses include Spokane County Medical Examiner Dr. John Howard, who conducted Lorri Keller's autopsy, and Dr. Paul Lin, who treated Gary Keller.

Today's witnesses included Hallock and Amanda Black from the state crime lab.

Black underwent extensive cross examination and admitted under questioning that the lab can't guarantee samples aren't contaminated. The point is key to Strine's defense.

Oreskovich said in his opening statement that he will present experts to refute a test that put Strine's blood-alcohol level at .20.

Oreskovich likely will begin calling witnesses Thursday afternoon. The case could be with the jury by the end of next week.

Past coverage:

Jan. 21, 2011: Husband recounts fatal crash

June 25, 2009: Driver sued over deadly wreck

June 4, 2009: School district on crash victim: 'Everybody just loved her'

Cell phone call leads to juror’s dismissal

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — One of the jurors has been dismissed at the aggravated murder trial in Spokane of a man accused of killing five people at a Pasco auto body shop 23 years ago.

The Tri-City Herald reports the juror was excused Tuesday because he was making a cell phone call in a hallway and may have seen the defendant in the custody of guards. The court has taken care not to show Vicente Ruiz in custody to avoid the implication of guilt.

Two alternates remain on the jury.

The trial of the 46-year-old was moved to Spokane from Franklin County after two mistrials.

Prosecutors are wrapping up their case and the defense may start calling witnesses on Friday.

Read a longer story from the Tri-City Herald by clicking the link below.

Past coverage:

Dec. 7: Spokane medical examiner is ‘87 Pasco murder witness

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