Patterico's Pontifications


Heads You’re Guilty . . .

Filed under: Court Decisions,Morons — Patterico @ 10:24 pm

When I do a trial, I always laugh to myself when the judge reads the instruction that tells the jury not to base its verdict on the flip of a coin.

After all, who the hell would do that?

Well, it happened in one case. And the Ninth Circuit has refused to reverse the case.

I haven’t read the case, and I try not to comment on cases I haven’t read. Still, based on the article, I find myself dangerously close to agreeing with Stephen Reinhardt. Scary . . .

6 Responses to “Heads You’re Guilty . . .”

  1. I haven’t read the case, either, but from reading the article you linked to it hardly sounds surprising. I remember a case in law school about a case involving drugs and alcohol, among other things, where several jurors later admitted to consuming large quantities of the “evidence” during deliberations. On appeal, it was ruled that this couldn’t even be considered since only jurors were providing the evidence. If a bailiff had stumbled upon them in the act, well, that would have been different, eh?

    Xrlq (c51d0d)

  2. Flipping a coin is just one way of making a difficult decision, after all other ways have been exhausted. Would you prefer that a juror pray to God for guidance?

    LTEC (9db880)

  3. I find myself dangerously close to agreeing with Stephen Reinhardt. Scary . . .

    And that’s why you’re not a a post-modern Dem, Patterico. You weigh an argument based on its merits, not on who’s making it (as I tell my kids “the message, not the messenger” is what counts).

    As for the trial, the slippery slope of disallowing a verdict based on such “irrational” decision-making would inevitably lead to a SCOTUS trial to decide whether or not religion was rational or not. What do you think SCOTUS would decide?

    I don’t wanna know, either.

    ras (482403)

  4. I actually tend to disagree with you here Patterico. It’s one thing I think if the entire jury puts the verdict behind the flip of a coin. But for an individual juror to do such a thing is much less troublesome. After all, all 11 other jurors had to believe the individual was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, for one individual to use a coin as a basis of reasonable doubt vs. beyond a reasonable doubt is not terribly unreasonable. It’s very important to note that only one juror resorted to coin flipping. Theoretically, if all 12 jurors did the same individually and found the individual guilty, well, the probability of that is so slim itself that perhaps it’s not too bad to consider that itself a sign. After all, the chance of it happening indepentently 12 times is .00024414 or .02%…not bad odds actually for an indicted defendant.

    Joel B. (3abb5b)

  5. patterico, where do/did you practice law? I’m familiar with Reinhardt and am not surprised…the problem with flipping a coin is that the juror is abdicating his responsibility, fortified by the oath taken when sworn in as a juror, to decide the case on the merits…if this juror could not make up his/her mind and had to resort to a coin flip, the prosection obviously did not carry its burden of proof…in that instance that particular juror was obligated to vote to acquit…

    ric ottaiano (6650a2)

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