January 26, 2010 By Wallin & Klarich

In a recent California Court of Appeals case (People v. Tuggles) the court ruled that the trial judge has the power to subpoena any juror that he or she feels may have been involved in misconduct during the trial. The judge can do so at the request of the defense or of the prosecution.

California Code of Civil Procedure sections 206 and 237 allow jurors to prevent the release of information to parties, their attorneys, investigators working for counsel, and members of the general public. The court must heed the wishes of reluctant jurors to bar disclosure of their personal identifying information to these persons. However, Code of Civil Procedure sections 206 and 237 do not infringe upon the trial courts’ inherent power to investigate strong indicia of juror misconduct. (People v. Cox, 53 Cal.3d)

Jurors may not thwart an investigation of misconduct by the court itself. The trial court has discretion to subpoena even reluctant jurors when necessary to determine whether the fact-finding process went awry. Accordingly, the trial court in this case erred by concluding that it had no power to order jurors to attend an evidentiary hearing after they declined to discuss the case with counsel. The duty to protect jurors from overzealous attorneys and investigators does not require an abandonment of the court’s obligation to ensure that the jury trial process is free from misconduct.

There is a potential for juror misconduct in every criminal case. It is important to have the experienced Southern California appeals attorneys from Wallin & Klarich represent you in your appeal. Our attorneys have the knowledge and expertise you need if you were convicted of a criminal offense. Our attorneys may decide it is important to look into juror misconduct issues in your case. The attorneys at Wallin & Klarich can be reached by phone at 1-888-280-6839 or through our website at www.wklaw.com. We will be there when you call.

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