A California court of appeals has voided a conviction and resulting 36 year sentence because of a juror’s blog. As reported by the AP:
An unpublished opinion released Thursday by a three-judge panel of the 4th District Court of Appeals found that the defendant, Donald McNeely, must be allowed a hearing to determine whether the jury was biased before the conviction can stand.
According to court documents, a juror who served as foreman bragged in his blog about hiding the fact that he was a licensed attorney during jury selection, instead telling the court that he worked as a project manager for a technology company. ‘More neutral than lawyer, don’t ya think,’ the man wrote.
He posted detailed accounts of jury deliberations, writing, ‘Nowhere do I recall the jury instructions mandating I can’t post comments in my blog about the trial. (Ha. Sorry, will do.)’
The reversal will not be automatic, but with the court of appeals reversal of the trial judge, good chance the trial judge will find the jury was biased and order a new trial.
This is a case of bad facts making for bad law and sensational news coverage on blogs and the law. Not only do we have a juror blogging, but he tells lawyers he is not blogging when asked, and misleads lawyers and the court about not being a lawyers.
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