Specific Grounds to Appeal: Jury MisconductAfter a jury has spent time in deliberations and has reached a verdict in a criminal case in California, the defense has the right to appeal that decision, if specific grounds to do so exist. One reason the defense may appeal is on the grounds of jury misconduct. Misconduct by the jury is when the law of the court has been violated by at least one member of the jury. However, it has been done while the court case was in progression or even after the verdict has been reached. It’s considered jury misconduct or “juror misconduct” to consider evidence that wasn’t produced at trial, for example.

Juror Misconduct Examples
There are several circumstances under which an act of a juror would be viewed negatively. If the defense concludes that any of the following statements are true, then an appeal on the specific grounds of jury misconduct most likely would be appropriate:

  • A juror communicated with outsiders, witnesses, attorneys, bailiffs, or judges about the case
  • A juror brought into the jury room information about the case that is not a part of the evidence
  • A juror conducted his or her own experiments regarding theories of the case outside of the court.

Responsibilities of a Jury
Through the appeal process, someone who has been convicted of a crime could get his or sentence overturned if the case involved this crime by the jury. If selected to serve on a jury, that person is supposed to be fair, open-minded and unbiased while considering the case at hand. It often has been found as the result of s juror’s disobedience to instructions; inappropriate communications with court personnel, third parties, and/or alternate jurors; contact with extraneous reading materials and/or inadmissible evidence; race and ethnic prejudice; improper jury deliberations; and official misconduct by bailiffs, judges and other court personnel. It is the responsibility of each member of a jury to abide by the rules and regulations presented to him or her to ensure a conviction stands.

California Penal Code 1181
A defendant may even be able request a new trial on the grounds that jury misconduct has taken place. In accordance with California Penal Code 1181, a court specifically may grant a new trial when “the jury has received any evidence out of court, other than that resulting from a view of the premises, or of personal property; the jury separated without leave of the court after retiring to deliberate upon their verdict, the jury is guilty of any misconduct by which a fair and due consideration of the case has been prevented; and/or when the verdict has been decided by lot, or by any means other than a fair expression of opinion on the part of all the jurors.”

Proving Your Case
Someone will not prevail in his or her appeal in California on the specific grounds of jury misconduct just by explaining that the jury engaged in misconduct. It must be proven and that misconduct had to affect the outcome of the jury trial. It is important to understand, however, the prosecution has the responsibility of proving that the misconduct did not take place and did not have an impact on the outcome of the case, as well. Often, it is not difficult for a defense lawyer to win an appeal based on jury misconduct.