Ivana Samardzic, 20, is one lucky lady that her trip to Cancun was not shorten to a trip to the can. The Wisconsin juror was supposed to be deliberating a verdict in a felony shooting case when she simply left for the airport to go on vacation, calling the clerk from the airport to say that she left her vote in the jury room and did not want to lose out on the family trip. To the surprise of many, Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge JD Watts (shown here) did not jail her for contempt but simply let the 11 member jury decide the case and fined Samardzic $300. The case that Samardzic abandoned involved a wonderfully named defendant, Spartacus Outlaw, who was accused in a felony shooting case.
Accounts described “Juror No. 4” as not saying much in the jury room deliberations before walking out to go party in Cancun. She is Serbian born.
Samardzic, 20, said that she was delighted to have escaped a jail sentence and added “I don’t know if this was worth it, but I did have a good time in Cancun.”
As for Outlaw, he was left with 11 jurors, which convicted him of being a felon in possession of a gun, but deadlocked on the charge of reckless injury with a dangerous weapon. The vote was 8-3 on the second charge. Not only did Outlaw have a reasonable expectation of having a full jury, so did the victim and his family. While Outlaw agreed to proceed with just 11 jurors and thus effectively waived the issue, Samardzic’s conduct is truly shocking. Her brother explained her legal argument succinctly, “I guess it’s just one of those situations where, you know, [expletive] happens.”
The decision by Watts to proceed under the civil rather than the criminal provision is a bit of a surprise for many. Watts, a former prosecutor, gave her a mild lecture and let the matter drop. I am not usually someone who advocates jail to concentrate the mind of citizens but I think a couple days in jail would have been a useful lesson for Samardzic on basic ethics and civics. In the very least, I would have liked to see a much higher fine. What do you think?
Source: Journal Sentinel