Abbell Petitions U.S. Supreme Court On Jury Deliberations

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Thursday, August 1, 2002
Bruce Zagaris
On May 1, 2002 lawyers Michael Abbell and William Moran filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court, petitioning for a writ of certiorari to review the judgement of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in their case. On November 7, 2001 the Court of Appeals denied petitioners? petitions for panel rehearing. Rehearing en banc was entered on February 5, 2002. The petition raises the issue of whether the petitioners Sixth Amendment right under the U.S. Constitution was violated when the trail court judge removed a juror from the case because of a disputed finding that the juror could no longer deliberate. The Eleventh Circuit authorized a ?sweeping and disruptive intrusion? in deliberations, permitting the district court subjectively to weight conflicting evidence in the record and make credibility determinations. The Eleventh Circuit held that a discharge is permissible unless there is ?substantial evidence? that the request to discharge arose from the juror?s view of the sufficiency of the evidence. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the discharge of the deliberating juror even though the record was indisputably ambiguous record. The petition argues the Eleventh Circuit?s approach is also completely inconsistent with this Court?s decisions requiring the preservation of the secrecy of jury deliberations.