The afternoon story began with the announcement the jury in the Officer Michael Slager trial was hopelessly deadlocked. Previously the State of South Carolina presented two options for verdict consideration, Murder or Voluntary Manslaughter.
The reason for the lesser charge was transparent to all who knew and followed the case closely, there was virtually no-way for a jury to convict on just the original charge of murder, hence the lesser included.
Adding the lesser charge option after trial testimony was yet again more evidence of a manipulative prosecution.
In essence, the State –with the full support of activist Judge Newman– timed the lesser charge inclusion to ensure the defense never used elements within their legal presentation that would have defended specifically against the manslaughter charge.
However, that said, what happened on Friday was even more insufferable. After the jury announcing they were deadlocked, Judge Newman began by giving them an appropriate “Allen Charge” – essentially telling the jury to try again.
The jury returned a notification hours later they were still deadlocked; and in a rather disconcerting presentation the foreman stated they were deadlocked 11-1 with a single holdout for non guilty.
No-one can know which charge the jury are deadlocked on, but reasonable followers conclude it’s most likely the lesser option of voluntary manslaughter. The original murder charge was politically beneficial, appeased the mob, made the media happy, but was essentially an impossible climb. Most intellectually honest people knew this.
Stunningly the holdout juror provided a personal letter to the court as noted below:
[Keep this in mind, it becomes critical later in the day]
According to South Carolina statute, after receiving the 2nd deadlock notification, Judge Newman could not force the jury into a third round of deliberations against their will – unless the jury requested it, and specifically asked for clarification of a point of the law.
When Newman brought the jury back into the courtroom he informed them he could not force further deliberations unless they agreed to, and had a question of law. Despite the 2nd notification of deadlock, the foreperson agreed to further deliberation and said they would seek the court to provide additional questions.
At that moment, Judge Newman screwed up – BIG TIME.
- Mistake #1 – Judge Newman did not immediately ask the jury what point of law they needed clarification for.
- Mistake #2 – Judge Newman did not reprimand the foreman from quantifying the numerical position of the current juror status (ie. 11-1). Failing to tell the foreman not to quantify the jurors positions is the cornerstone for a coercion appeal.
- [Remember, Newman also accepted and read the notification from the holdout juror]
- Mistake #3 – Judge Newman was, as a matter of his own knowledge therein, bound to ask the foreman if he still represented the voice of all jurors – in the request for a 3rd round of deliberations, he didn’t.
- Mistake #4 – Judge Newman then sent the jury, without any questions, back to the deliberation room – while he discussed the jury notification with the defense and prosecution.
All of these mistakes are solid appeal points regardless of outcome.
Fortunately, Defense Attorney Savage noted an objection to the courts’ decision and noted in the court record the jury did not have a question for the judge on a point of law AFTER they announced the second deadlock.
Judge Newman cannot, by statute, arbitrarily guess on the question, or seed the question – the inquiry must stem from the jury, not from Newman’s instruction to the jury. FUBAR.
Judge Newman then sent the court official to the jury room to ask them for the statutorily required point-of-law question, for him, which is required for a 3rd round of deliberations to continue beyond the 2nd deadlock notification.
At approximately 5:00pm EDT, the response from the jury was to request a postponement of deliberations until Monday Morning 9:00am at which time they would have a question. The Judge stunningly agreed to recess the court and deliberations until Monday.
Here’s where the outcome of the verdict is irrelevant.
Specifically because the hold-out juror has notified the court of their inability NOT to deliver a guilty verdict: “I cannot in good conscience consider a guilty verdict” – and considering this was AFTER the 2nd notification of a deadlock – any reversal by that juror after a weekend recess, will make the verdict moot.
There is a ton of legal precedence for jury coercion and the elements in this case, especially the written notification, hit on every single aspect of them. Judge Newman, by trying too hard to gain a verdict, has essentially ensured no guilty verdict outcome will matter.
And lookie here.… It appears the Judge just realized exactly what we said, earlier when he announced the weekend recess:
If Newman cannot get the juror replaced, the outcome of the jury decision, if guilty, is irrelevant. Judge Newman is trying to protect himself and the verdict; this is how you can identify an “activist” judge.
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