California Appeals Court Reverses Guilty Verdict due to Juror Coercion

By: Wallin & Klarich

You may be able to get conviction reversed if the judge pressures juror to change their vote

A recently decided case highlights a problem that faces accused criminals in the court system: judges pressuring jurors to change their vote from not guilty to guilty. Amongst professional California criminal defense lawyers, this form of judicial coercion is regarded as an Allen charge. An Allen charge will enable a convicted criminal to have his guilty verdict reversed for new trial if it can be shown that the judge knew which juror(s) were holding out from forming the guilty verdict such that the individual juror(s) would view the instruction to reconsider their vote as being directed specifically at them.

In U.S. v. Williams, a juror convinced that the defendants were not guilty based upon presented evidence informed the judge that she would not change her position, that she was tired of being harassed by other jurors to change her mind, and that she suspected the other jurors were convicting the defendants because they were prejudiced. Knowing exactly what juror had stated they would not change their vote, the judge ordered the jury to continue discussions and further instructed them that their verdict, “guilty or not guilty, must be unanimous.” The jury did come back with a unanimous guilty verdict, and it is unsurprising that a California appeals court, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, found that the judge’s instruction was specifically directed at the loan hold out juror, and reversed the guilty verdict because it was coerced.

U.S. v. Williams makes it clear that if a person is convicted of a crime by a jury that appeared to be unsure of its decision or otherwise in disagreement about guilt, there could very well be grounds to have the conviction reversed. If you suspect that you, or someone you know was convicted by a jury that was not in total agreement on the question of guilt, it is imperative that you consult with a California criminal appeals lawyer immediately. The Law Office of Wallin & Klarich has been practicing criminal law for over 30 years, including appealing guilty verdicts. They have offices all throughout Southern California strategically located to quickly respond to legal urgencies, and can be reached 24 hours a day at 1 (888) 749-0034. Additionally, you can begin to find answers to your legal questions at

Posted In: Criminal Appeals