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Friday, 12 October 2007
"What do we do when a juror refuses to vote?"

That, as the Dallas Morning News reports, was the note the judge in the Holy Land Foundation terrorism-funding trial in Texas received from the jury on October 3.  And that was over a week ago — the jury has now been deliberating for almost a month — since September 19.

This is an extraordinarily important case, focused on the Hamas support network in the United States, that the mainstream press has ignored.  There is obviously real reason for concern that it will end in a mistrial. 

The law is delicate in this area.  Jury deliberations are close to sacrosanct, and we generally are not permitted to inquire into them.  A juror is not disqualified for disagreeing with fellow jurors.  But the law recognizes a difference between a juror who disagrees, on the one hand, and a juror who refuses to deliberate.  The latter can be removed on the theory that he or she is refusing to perform the function of a juror.  It's not always easy, however, to distinguish disagreement with other jurors from refusal to discuss the case with other jurors — especially since the law does not permit us to inquire into the substance of the deliberations.  (We usually learn about those only after the trial, when jurors agree to be interviewed and explain what happened.)

It'll be terrible if this jury hangs since the trial has been long and complex. 

Posted on 10/12/2007 11:36 AM by Andy McCarthy
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