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UCW trial, many years ago. During voir dire, opening statements and closing arguments I repeatedly stressed the issue of "traveling." Over and over again, the point was made that the law doesn't tell you what traveling is. The law only tells you what traveling is not. First note from jury: "What is the definition of traveling?" Second note: "Can we have a dictionary."
I wanted the judge to write: That's what you are here to decide.
Instead, he went with the "You are to consider the evidnce brought out at trial . . . . " standard.
The "behind doors" replies offered by the three of us were much more colorful.
Had one jury that did actually follow the instructions and did all communications with the bailiff in writing. After a punishment verdict that had the foreman a little frustrated with one juror, the note was "WE ARE FINISHED!"
On the flip side, we once had a jury convict the defendant of Intox Assault, only to come back with NO deadly weapon finding...?? "We find you guilty of causing SBI with your vehicle, yet do not find that your vehicle was capable of causing SBI..."
From DWI case this week: After jury is initially sworn in, judge asks if they have any questions. One of the jurors raises his hand and asks if, since they are not deciding punishment themselves, they will be allowed to watch the judge assess punishment?
Same jury during deliberations sends out a note: If we believe the first officer's testimony, but not the arresting officer's testimony, can we still find the defendant guilty?
This past week we tried an agg. sex. asslt. of a child case. The Def. was the victim's grandfather who was found guilty after about 10 minutes of deliberation.
Almost as soon as they they were released to consider punishment they sent back a note asking "if the sentence is for a certain number of years 'plus one day,' is it true he won't get parole?"
The judge just told the jury to consider the charge.
Even with this question the jury was only out a total of 20 minutes before they returned a verdict of 99 years.
The defendant is 74, and in poor health. He will not be eligible for parole until he is 104 years old.
What does "to-wit" mean?
Does "unanimous" and "majority" mean the same thing?
We had a jury send out a note that said, "Can we give half years?" The judge gave the shortest answer to a jury question I have ever seen: "Yes." The jury promptly came back with a sentence of 7.5 years in prison in a theft case.
My favorite jury note came from my first felony trial for agg. asslt with deadly weapon many years ago....Jury's note read..."what does TO WIT mean...." Never thought I needed to explain that in my closing argument....
I was reading my record this week and I was reminded of a classic jury gaffe. Tried a guy for DWI 3rd enhanced to 25-99 with priors. Good case for intoxication except for no blow. Jury deliberates and returns a verdict. Here where I quote:
THE COURT: "XXXX, if you'll stand for the verdict, please. Verdict of the jury is as follows: "We, the Jury, find the defendant, XXXX, not guilty of the felony offense of driving while intoxicated as alleged in the indictment." Signed by the jury fore --
PRESIDING JUROR: Your Honor -- Your Honor, I signed that on the wrong line.
THE COURT: Okay. So it should be guilty?
PRESIDING JUROR: Yes, ma'am.
Talk about a rollercoaster of emotions.
Maybe you have seen this before...but my first jury in San Antonio came out after 3 hours with a question: "Do we have to be unanimous as to the foreman?"
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