Murder verdict overturned because of 7000 texts by a juror during the trial!

01 November 2019 Internet, IT & e-Discovery Blog Blog
Authors: Peter Vogel

The New York Times reported that in 2015 “a jury convicted Robert Neulander, a prominent doctor in central New York, of killing his wife...[and] that one of the jurors who had voted to convict him of murder had exchanged 7,000 text messages with family and friends during the three-week trial.”  The October 31, 2019 article entitled “After Juror Exchanged 7,000 Texts, Murder Verdict Is Overturned” included these comments:

Hundreds of the texts involved aspects of the case, a clear violation of the judge’s standard admonition that jurors not discuss the matter until after the trial was over.

On Oct. 22, the New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, affirmed an appeals court’s decision last year that the conduct by the juror, Johnna Lorraine, was so bad that the conviction of Mr. Neulander, 68, should be set aside and that he should get a new trial.

In another potential violation of the judge’s instructions, Ms. Lorraine, a 23-year-old cheerleading coach at the time of the trial, also visited the websites of news organizations that were closely covering the case, according to court documents.

One notable aspect of that ruling: The Court of Appeals found that Ms. Lorraine had committed “misconduct, deceit and destruction of evidence,” depriving Mr. Neulander of his right to a fair trial. But it, too, did not find that she had been biased in reaching a verdict.

This seems like the right result!

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