Jury tells Judge Williams they cannot arrive at a verdict; Judge sends them back to try again
UPDATE (5:37PM, 12/15/15): That’s it for today, folks. No verdict, and jury sent home for the night. Deliberations start up again in the morning.
UPDATE (4:01PM, 12/15/15): In a shocking statement, trial Judge William Barry told the hung jury to “Compromise if you can do so without violence to your own moral judgement,” according to reporting by ABC News.
Such a statement coming from a trial judge is shocking because “compromise verdicts” in criminal cases are anathema to American concepts of jurisprudence and due process.
Each juror is sworn to vote for a guilty verdict on a charge only if they honestly believe that each and every element of that charge has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
If they do not so honestly believe this to be the case for a given charge, they are sworn to vote not guilty on that charge. Period.
This lies at the core of the legal mandate that the defendant has the presumption of innocence.
There is no proper room for compromise in such a judicial framework.
While it is true that criminal trial jurors do from time to time arrive at so-called compromise verdicts, such instances are considered defects in the judicial system, not legitimate outcomes.
If ever there were grounds for reversal of any conviction, this is it.
At 3:40PM the jury in the “Freddie Gray” trial of Baltimore Police Officer William Porter sent out a note to Judge Williams that they were deadlocked.
As is normal in such cases the Judge essentially just told them to try again. It’s reported that he re-read the jury charges to them prior to sending them back into deliberations, also normal.
There was no word on whether he also read them an Allen charge, named after the 1896 Supreme Court case in which they first approved the instruction (Allen v. United States, 164 US 492).
The Allen charge is a jury instruction used specifically in such circumstances in which the jury reports they cannot arrive at a unanimous verdict. It essentially reminds the jury of all the resources and time that have been put into this trial, notes that another jury is unlikely to be better suited to reaching a verdict than they are, and tells them to get their act together, get back into the jury room, and come back with a verdict, darn it!
Keep your eyes here for further updates as they develop.
Attorney Andrew Branca and his firm Law of Self Defense have been providing internationally-recognized expertise in American self-defense law for almost 20 years in the form of blogging, books, live seminars & online training (both accredited for CLE), public speaking engagements, and individualized legal consultation.
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