Twelve Ambivalent Men: Washington Jury Polled After Not Guilty Verdict Only To Be Sent Back and Then Reaches Guilty Verdict

200px-12_angry_menAlansWebPic_smPatricia Sylvester may have learned the ultimate lesson of “never ask a question in trial that you do not know the answer to.” Sylvester, 49, was overjoyed when a jury came back with a “not guilty” to vehicular assault in Island County Superior Court in Washington. While she cried with joy, Judge Alan Hancock polled the jury only to have one woman say that she didn’t agree with the “not guilty” verdict. He sent the jury back to voted again. By the time they had returned, they had convicted Sylvester.

I have serious reservations about this process since this “second bite at the apple” could have been influenced by the reaction in the courtroom and the defendant’s reaction. Sylvester was charged after an accident in 2008 that left a man with a collapsed lung and three fractured ribs. She was driving a 1996 Acura when she braked to avoid a car and lost control of her car. He hit a Subaru driven by Michael Nichols.

The jury still found her not guilty of the offense of committing vehicular assault while intoxicated.

There are some reports indicating that the holdout juror was consistent in her voting and that the jury misunderstood a jury instruction regarding the necessity of a unanimous decision. I am not sure how “unanimous” is ambiguous but they believed that every vote was not needed for a not guilty verdict.

In their defense, they had sent questions about the unanimous verdict requirement, but obviously remained confused.

Jurors said that, when the judge sent them back, they looked more seriously at the evidence and found guilty.

It is hardly comforting that they took the time to look more seriously at the evidence after the verdict was announced. The defendant’s reaction and that of the courtroom could have influenced their response. It is true that a judge will often tell a divided jury to continue their deliberations. However, this is a materially different matter when the jury has been called to publicly identify their votes in open court. It seems to me that the earlier divided vote was an accurate tally and, if the court was not going to accept the not guilty verdict (which is understandable), a mistrial would be in order.

This case shows why lawyers need to ask for a polling of the jury if a court does not do so automatically — when you are on the losing side. However, in this case, Sylvester’s attorney reportedly asked for the polling. I am not sure why you would want to poll a not guilty jury. The attorney may have suspected a division and wanted to put the matter to rest for appeal. Yet, it was a gamble for the same reason that cost the client dearly.

It is not malpractice to do so. Such matters are treated as matters of discretionary tactics.

For the full story, click here.

126 thoughts on “Twelve Ambivalent Men: Washington Jury Polled After Not Guilty Verdict Only To Be Sent Back and Then Reaches Guilty Verdict”

  1. Mike S:

    If we are manning the barricades to introduce Laissez Faire and get rid of the FED count me in!

    “Laissez faire, telle devrait être la devise de toute puissance publique, depuis que le monde est civilisé…. Détestable principe que celui de ne vouloir grandir que par l’abaissement de nos voisins! Il n’y a que la méchanceté et la malignité du coeur de satisfaites dans ce principe, et l’intérêt y est opposé. Laissez faire, morbleu! Laissez faire!!

    (Let it be, such should be the motto of every public power, ever since the world is civilized….. A detestable principle that we cannot grow but by the lowering of our neighbors! There is nothing but mischief and malignity of heart that are satisfied with that principle, and interest is opposed to it. Let it be, damn it! Let it be!!)”

    René de Voyer, Marquis d’Argenson

    the good Marquis was a man well ahead of his times.

  2. “that is exactly what I believe. I think we have welfare for the rich and that the federal reserve was created to allow wealthy people to keep their money with little or no effort.”

    This is why the right/left split as reported by the media and pretended to by politicians is such crap. If and old radical like me and a libertarian conservative like yourself can agree on certain economic terms, the whole panoply of pseudo “Hardball”
    arguments are just verbiage. Come the revolution we can man the baricades together.

  3. Byron: “that is a good cartridge, but you have to be at probably no more than 200 yards.”


    A .243 100 grain btsp has a Maximum Point Blank Range of approximately 285 yards

    Compare the .243 MPBR with the .270, .308 & 30-06

    From Chuck Hawk’s site: “Winchester’s Supreme 95 grain Ballistic Silvertip big game bullet is factory loaded to a MV of 3,100 fps with 2,021 ft. lbs. of muzzle energy (ME). If that load is zeroed to strike 2.5 inches high at 100 yards the bullet will then strike 3 inches high at 150 yards, 2.3 inches high at 200 yards, and 3 inches low at 300 yards. At 200 yards that bullet hits with 1,455 ft. lbs. of energy, and at 300 yards it still retains 1,225 ft. lbs. of energy. With this load so zeroed the .243 Winchester is about a 300 yard deer and antelope cartridge.”

    I enjoy target shooting more than hunting; especially long range.

  4. MikeS:

    “We are living under socialism, but it is Socialism for the Rich and the thing most feared by major corporations is the free market.”

    that is exactly what I believe. I think we have welfare for the rich and that the federal reserve was created to allow wealthy people to keep their money with little or no effort. If you had a truly free market the rich would not be able to keep their money safe. The dynamics of the market would prevent idiots from keeping their trust funds and economic downturns would always keep the economy fresh by sweeping away the carcases of inefficient users of capital.

    The current system promotes and rewards corporate sloth. A corporation should not receive any type of handout to keep them afloat. Let them go under and let another more efficient competitor take their place.

    And the federal reserve must go if the US is to ever have any sane economic policy. It has been a millstone around the neck of our economy and society for almost a hundred years. It has outlived it usefulness by about 90 years.

  5. Byron,
    You are a good person, but you are naive when it comes to the ways of the elite. They need the poor to make them feel better about themselves. The other point is that our national policies via the Federal Reserve have constantly raised the interest rates when unemployment starts going below 5%, which is really 10% when you factor in those pushed off the unemployement roles as no longer looking for work. They slow down the economy so wages won’t rise. Therefore for many years it has be national financial policy to keep at least 10% of the population unemployed and then villify them for not working. Look beyond the propaganda. We are living under socialism, but it is Socialism for the Rich and the thing most feared by major coporations is the free market.

    As for what you describe about being out with your wife in a wheelchair I can imagine how angry that must make you. It makes me angry just hearing about it. This is the problem with stereotyping and just as the public do it in regarding those wheel chair bound as less than normal, so do they do it with people who are poor. Byron, if more people with you political beliefs existed, they don’t, we could all make the compromises that woould turn our country around. It is unfortunate that too many would find that you fail their litmus test of what a conservative or libertarian should be. You are the sane one, not them.

  6. Mike S:

    I honestly do recognize what you are talking about. But I am not sure the elites are out to get poor people. Otherwise we would have fewer people doing well. I will readily admit that the rich, especially inherited money rich tend to look down their noses at people that are not rich and consider them the “hired” help. I see it and hear about it all the time.

    But then that is the human condition, people are always looking for someone to look down on so they can feel good about themselves.

    There are also a good many stereotypes, I get it all the time. My wife and I are out and they talk to her as if I am deaf and dumb. It used to bug me but then I just figured that they had limited exposure to people in wheelchairs.

    And I am acknowledging the same about my exposure to the poor and what I have relayed to you is my limited experience based on the working poor I have met and known.

    I am all for helping people that are willing to try, but if you have to hand it to them on a silver plate I’ll pass.

    So you were a “disciple” of Bugsy Siegel and Meyer Lansky? Was your mob name “The Brain”?
    I bet you have some good stories to tell.

  7. “But I used to work with some of them, the majority were white, and some were hard working and willing to give you the shirt off their back but some were just worthless punks. And blatant bull sh . . .”

    most of them are just poor. With it poverty breeds hopelessness. With hopelessness comes anti-social behavior. There have been studies that show that people who are put in hopeless situations act out badly. What you do is blame people who have been damaged by poverty for their not behaving better. That you were able to overcome great disparities in your life only means that you are a person with above average talents. To blame average people for being unable to cope is very like blaming the victim.

    Whether you are willing to see it or not our system has been set up to the benefit of the elite and to deal with those in need with contempt and cruelty. You need to look beyond your own talents and allow empathy to walk in others shoes. I’ve done very well in my life in many ways and I obviously have much talent and skills. However, I understand that there but for the grace of fate go I. I was a member of a street gang, had many angry fist fights and hung out with criminals in my youth. I was able to break away, but many who weren’t were just as good as I am, just less lucky and less quicker on the uptake.

    Many people faced with the disability you have would let it crush them, rather than overcome it as you have and become successful. Would you blame them for not having your strength of mind and character? Would their failures be a reason for us not to help them societally?

  8. BobEsq:

    that is a good cartridge, but you have to be at probably no more than 200 yards.

  9. “any thoughts on what would be a good caliber to take out a hungry wolf?”

    .243 Win.

  10. Jill:

    the avatar is from my favorite Ben Franklin quote about a well armed lamb contesting the wolves vote on what to have for dinner.

    Although I don’t think Old Ben had a rocket launcher in mind. Personally I am not sure how well that would work on a couple of wolves. A 30-06 would probably be sufficient.

    Gyges, any thoughts on what would be a good caliber to take out a hungry wolf?

  11. Jill:

    I think you miss my point. Some people are poor because they don’t care to improve their lot in life. Some are poor through no fault of their own.

    I agree that BS knows no class boundaries. But the money that a low rent heir uses was made by someone and it is their property to disperse as they see fit. If they want to give it to their slacker children, that is not my business. I would suggest they give it to the Humane Society or a college scholarship fund or other worthwhile cause but it is there money.

    I don’t think I have a right to “persuade” someone through force how to distribute their property. Likewise I don’t want to be compelled by force to give money to causes or people that I would not support if I had a choice.

    I wish someone would explain to me the difference between “keep your hands off my body” but “take my money for the public “good””. I see a contradiction, but then maybe I am missing something.

  12. Byron: “just bought Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason.”

    The Kemp-Smith translation I hope? That’s the go-to edition for damn near all analysis. Either way, since I don’t see myself reading the text for a fourth time in the near future, you’re going to need a ‘Sherpa,’ i.e. a college professor to get the most out of your reading.

    Byron: “And already a question arises. He seems to be saying that there are 2 types of knowledge but then he says that a priori knowledge is based on a posteriori knowledge.”

    There’s pure and empirical knowledge. In the study of epistemology, the book you’re supposed to read before the Critique is Hume’s Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding; the work that awoke Kant from his ‘dogmatic slumber.’ Hume lays out the limits of empiricism and just leaves it there, while Kant picks up the ball and heads for the end zone. While I was spending my third year of law school using Kant’s method to analyze the Ninth Amendment, I found myself returning to the first 100 pages which pretty much lays out his methodology applied throughout the remainder of the text.

    “In other words a priori is subserviant to a post. Is a priori a synthesis of a post.?”

    Like I said, you’ll need a Sherpa; you’re jumping ahead too quickly. I suggest you read the chapter on THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN ANALYTIC AND SYNTHETIC JUDGMENTS on through to the discussion of Synthetic a priori Judgments VERY carefully. Do you know what it means to say “the concept of the predicate is contained within the concept of the subject?” All bachelors are unmarried? All bodies are extended? Etc.,048

    When I say I used Kant’s method to analyze the Ninth Amendment, I mean I applied analytic judgments and synthetic a priori judgments to the definitions of the social compact, rights, republican form of government, etc., in order to uncover the NECESSARY truths about the boundaries between government and individual rights that have become far less self-evident over the years.

    Byron: “Or is a priori the knowledge that supposedly follows us from other dimensions as in Socrates’s dialogue with Meno about the slave boy that could do geometry?”

    Now you’ve touched on the whole magilla that’s discussed in the remaining 500 pages. What’s the ‘hardware’ of the mind and what’s the ‘software?’ The phenomena v. noumena; the unity of apperception, etc. Would you believe I was taking a creative writing course at the same time as reading the Critique for the first time? When I had to write my first term paper on the book, I sketched out a story of a boy named Kevin who lived in an illusory world, like a hologram but a tad more hard wired. Which is why a certain movie that came out in 1999 shocked the shit out of me.

    If you want a good analogy of the basic ‘construct’ of Kant’s argument, I suggest you rent “The Matrix” and pay particular attention to the scene where Morpheus explains to Neo “what is the matrix.” It’s the scene where the two of them are in a white space called ‘the construct’

    Don’t worry if you don’t understand the connections yet, you’ll see the connections as you read along.

    Finally, as I said before, the only viable connection I’ve seen between The Meno and Epistemology lay in Carl Jung’s description of the Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious; as further illustrated by Joseph Campbell.

    Too much Kant before noon. I need coffee.

  13. Byron,

    Love you avatar! Don’t you think your description fits people in general? I just don’t see that kind of behavior limited by income. If being a bull shitter is what limits one’s ability to gain housing, food, clothing and medical care etc, then shouldn’t bullshitting trust funders who are lazy and don’t work, be condemned by you and denied these things as well?

  14. Mike S:

    There are, in my opinion, 2 types of poor people. The kind that are poor through no fault of their own and the kind that just dont give a dam. You are certainly in a much better position than I am because you have had to help them on a daily basis. But I used to work with some of them, the majority were white, and some were hard working and willing to give you the shirt off their back but some were just worthless punks. And blatant bull sh . . .

  15. “And I would not classify most poor people as wretched.’

    If you’d worked with the people I worked with for years, shared their confidence and heard their stories you might think differently.

  16. Mike S:

    Donald Trump by his own admission is a member of the “Lucky Sperm Club”.

    And I would not classify most poor people as wretched.

  17. Mespo,
    How easy is that forgotten, or never even looked at by people.
    I also never really had backbreaking jobs, my worst was short order cook and Limo Driver. The latter because you really don’t how insufferable some of the rich can be unless you work for them.

Comments are closed.