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Eighth Circuit Remands Where Alternate Juror May Have Participated in Deliberations
Mar 23rd, 2014

Somehow, an alternate juror managed to stay for jury deliberations in the trial of Manuel Maldonado Aguilar without anyone noticing until the day after the verdict was rendered. In United States v. Aguilar, issued on February 26, 2014 (published), the Eighth Circuit joined three other circuits that have held that a defendant is prejudiced “when an alternate actually participates in the deliberations or exerts a chilling effect on the regular jurors.” The Court remanded for a factual hearing “about the alternate’s actual participation.” This bodes well for Aguilar, since (with the trial court’s permission), his counsel had contacted two jurors who said that “the alternate actually participated in deliberations by asking and answering questions, but did not vote.” Aguilar should therefore be able to make a showing “beyond mere presence” that will require reversal here.




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JaneAnne Murray is a criminal defense lawyer in Minneapolis.

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