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Hung Jury

Posted By Criminal Law Standard || 30-Aug-2010

    Recently, Rod Blagojevich went to trial in federal court on 24 charges, many of which were related to allegations he tried to sell Barak Obama's senate seat after Mr. Obama was elected president.  Although the jury convicted Mr. Blagojevich of one charge (making false statements to the FBI), the jury could not reach a unanimous verdict on the remaining 23 counts. 

    Reportedly, one juror prevented the jury from reaching a verdict with respect to many of the more serious charges (i.e. the jury voted 11-1 to convict).  Since a unanimous verdict is required for a criminal conviction, however, the outcome was a hung jury (i.e. a mistrial).  A hung jury neither convicts or vindicates the accused. 

    In many respects, a criminal case's status after a trial that ends with a hung jury is the same as it was before the trial except that the prosecution and defense are better education as to how well or poorly witnesses will testify in front of a jury, what strategy their opponent will implement, and how the Judge will rule on contested evidentiary issues. In addition, if jurors are willing to speak with attorneys following the case, the parties can get a clearer idea of the probable outcome of a second trial. 

    Following a mistrial (due to a hung jury at trial), depending on a host of factors, the prosecution may dismiss some or all of the charges, the parties may reach a plea bargain agreement, or the case(s) is set for a second trial.   

    In cases like the Blagojevich case, where the jury voted 11-1 to convict the defendant, the prosecutions is likely to proceed with a second trial since it came within one vote of convicting the defendant in the first trial.  Not surprisingly, shortly after the trial, the Justice Department announced it would retry Blagojevich. 

    Had the jury deadlocked 11-1 in favor of finding Blagojevich not guilty, the Justice Department would recognize that the jury in a second trial would likely find Blagojevich not guilty on many, if not all, the remaining charges.  Under such circumstances, some or all the remaining charges may have been dismissed, and/or the Justice Department may have sought a plea bargain agreement.

    In short, what happens after a case ends with a hung jury depends on a variety of factors, however, how close the jury came to convicting the defendant is perhaps the most significant factor. 

    For 23 years Dallas criminal attorney Tom D'Amore has taken to verdict hundreds of jury trial cases in State and Federal Courts throughout Texas.  If you need a criminal attorney who has had success handling criminal matters over an extended time period, contact the D'Amore Law Firm to schedule a free case evaluation with Tom D'Amore

Categories: Federal Court, Mistrial, Trial

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