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How can juror misconduct affect a criminal trial?

Be entitled to a fair and impartial criminal trial is a constitutional right that you are awarded as an American citizen. A huge part of being ensuring a fair trial is guaranteeing that all jurors abide by strict North Dakota state and federal judicial guidelines. In the event that a juror illegally obtains information about your case and/or other related topics during the course of your trial, it can have a profound impact on the ultimate outcome of your case.

The issue of juror misconduct played out in the news recently when a juror on a high-profile murder case was accused of receiving and posting information about the trial online. Now, not only is a hearing set to take place in order to determine the validity of claims made against the juror in question, but the entire verdict of the case may change. The defendant is currently appealing his guilty conviction, and his criminal defense attorney is arguing that the verdict should be dismissed on the grounds of juror misconduct.

According to the North Dakota Juror’s Handbook, individuals chosen for jury service are legally obligated to abide by a number of strict guidelines. Stipulations include not discussing the case with anyone during the course of the trial or searching out information about the case. The jurors on your case are not allowed to speak with each other or anyone else about trial proceedings. Nor are they allowed to access news content about the case. The jurors should only consider the information and evidence that is presented at trial, and discuss the case together at the time of jury deliberations to reach a verdict.

The tainting of juror information or opinions must be taken seriously in order to ensure that you are constitutional rights are protected.  Some juror conduct is not considered illegal, however, so the information provided above cannot be used as legal counsel.

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