Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Federal judge dismisses a juror for 'good cause' in Oregon standoff trial

U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown summoned the jury in the Oregon standoff trial Wednesday morning to Courtroom 9A and dismissed one of the jurors on the panel, a day after another juror had sent the court a note questioning the man's ability to be impartial in deliberations. She immediately had her deputy summon an alternate juror, selected randomly from numbers in a cup, to be ready to join the jury in federal court at 8:30 a.m. Thursday. The judge's decision came after she proposed the solution, saying she found "good cause'' to dismiss the juror but would only do so if both the prosecution and defense teams agreed to his release. If not, she said she'd likely have to question each juror, which could "run afoul'' of federal rules that prohibit the court from inquiring about their "mental processes'' in jury deliberations. After about a 15-minute break, Assistant U.S. Attorney Ethan Knight announced his team would agree with defense lawyers to dismiss the juror. "I've determined Juror 11 needs to be excused,'' the judge told the jury moments later, citing the "interests of justice'' and to ensure the case isn't jeopardized by the court's deeper questioning of jurors to figure out the fuller context of Juror 4's note. Brown expects to give the new panel, now made up of nine women and three men, jury instructions again. Alternate juror No. 18, a woman from central Oregon who works as a legal assistant for a state public defender and family law attorney, will join the remaining 11 jurors Thursday morning. "You need to start over with that alternate juror,'' the judge told the remaining jurors. The judge said they must "set aside the conclusions'' they've drawn, destroy any verdict forms they were given and clean up the jury room so the new panel can start afresh. "It's a new jury, a new day, a new start,'' Brown said. Brown had arrived in court Wednesday morning with her own proposed plan and noted that Ammon Bundy's lawyer had filed a motion asking the court to either dismiss the juror, question the other members of the jury panel or declare a mistrial. The judge thanked Juror 11 for his service and told him his dismissal does not mean he's done "anything wrong or anything untoward.'' "But the problem is, a question was raised and it can't be resolved without me questioning every one of you about your deliberative process,'' the judge said, and that's unacceptable and could violate federal rules. The jurors sat stone-faced, displaying no visible emotion. They were allowed to leave for the day by noon Wednesday, ordered to return Thursday morning...more

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