State v. Jenkins, 422 P.3d 72 (Kan. 2018).
Summary: Nilgün Aykent Zahour analyzes the juror misconduct issues in the case of State v. Jenkins, 422 P.3d 72 (Kan. 2018). The issues we’re going to discuss are a juror’s gifts to the prosecutor, a juror’s romantic feelings towards an attorney, the use of an evidentiary hearing to determine whether or not there was juror misconduct, and the timing of the alleged juror misconduct.
Hi, this is Nilgün Zahour from SM JUROR and welcome to The SM JUROR Podcast on Juror Misconduct Law where our motto is, “Don’t let juror misconduct taint your verdict.” We analyze current state and federal juror misconduct cases and provide attorneys with the strategies to identify, preserve and advance juror misconduct issues at trial and on appeal.
And, today we’re going to be looking at the case of State v. Jenkins, which is out of Kansas. The issues we’re going to discuss are a juror’s gifts to the prosecutor, a juror’s romantic feelings towards an attorney, the use of an evidentiary hearing to determine whether or not there was juror misconduct, and the timing of the alleged juror misconduct. Glad you’re listening because the only evidence you want the jury to hear is in the courtroom. Now’s let’s take a look at State v. Jenkins.
Hi everyone. This is Nilgün Zahour from SM JUROR, and in today’s podcast, we’re going to be looking at the juror misconduct issues in the case of State v. Jenkins, which is out of Kansas.
This case was decided on July 27, 2018, and I’ll be sure to put the full citation of the case in our episode description. And, if you can, please leave us a review because we want your feedback and want to provide value to our listeners, and of course, if you were involved in a trial where juror misconduct was an issue, please contact us so we can interview you for our podcast.
Now in this case, in March of 2011, a jury found the defendant guilty of first degree murder. In December of that year, nine months after the verdict, and while the case was already on appeal, a juror, G.M., sent the prosecutor a poinsettia, chocolates and cards. The prosecutor had her investigator return the gifts to G.M. with a note from the prosecutor indicating that she had received the gifts, but that she could not accept them because G.M. was a juror in the Jenkins case. The prosecutor then informed defense counsel and the trial court about the gifts and a month later, in January of 2012, the defendant moved for a hearing based on juror misconduct.
Now in February of 2012, G.M. left the prosecutor a voicemail wishing her a Happy Valentine’s Day. And of course, this is during the time that the juror misconduct issue is being briefed.
In May of 2012, the trial court held an evidentiary hearing on the juror misconduct issue. The prosecutor testified about the gifts she had received and she also testified that she had no contact with G.M. during the trial and first saw him in the hallway in September of 2011, several months after the verdict, while she was in court on another case.
G.M. testified that he had no feelings for the prosecutor during the trial and showed no favoritism toward her. He indicated that he and his wife were getting divorced and in September of 2011, he was at the courthouse waiting for his divorce attorney when he saw the prosecutor in the hallway. Several months after that he sent her gifts and cards. Based on the evidence, the district court determined that there was no juror misconduct.
Now, let’s fast forward a year later.
In February of 2013, G.M. again sends the prosecutor flowers and chocolates again. The prosecutor then again sent another letter to the trial court and defense appellate counsel informing them that G.M. had again sent her the gifts.
There was a second evidentiary hearing, and the district court once more heard testimony from the prosecutor and G.M. The prosecutor testified consistently with what she had testified to before about the gifts she had received, the new gifts, and the timing of when she was contacted by G.M. after the verdict.
G.M. testified that he did not begin to think about being friends with the prosecutor until after the trial was over and that his feelings for the prosecutor had not influenced his verdict in the case. Defense counsel informed the court that he had an investigator contact seven other jurors about potential juror misconduct and that none of the jurors felt the integrity of the verdict had been compromised. The district court again concluded that there was no evidence of juror misconduct. The defendant appealed on that issue, as well as many others. The Kansas Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s ruling of no juror misconduct, finding that first, the district court twice considered whether this constituted juror misconduct and twice concluded that it was not.
Here, G.M. began sending the prosecutor chocolates, cards. and flowers approximately nine months after the jury returned a verdict. Additionally, G.M. had no personal relationships with the other jurors, the attorneys, or the defendant, and that there was ample testimony that G.M. based his verdict on the evidence. So, the Kansas Supreme Court held that there is was no abuse of discretion by the district court in finding that there was no juror misconduct.
Now, there are a couple of things I want to highlight here:
First, I want to talk about the timing of the alleged juror misconduct. The juror contact with the prosecutor occurred nine months after the verdict, in order to establish relevancy, the defendant’s burden was to show there was some sort of favoritism or bias going on which prejudiced him during the trial. Here, there were two evidentiary hearings. In essence the defendant had two bites at the apple, but could not establish that any juror misconduct occurred. And finally, the defendant’s own investigator sealed the deal when it was determined that several jurors were contacted and there was no evidence of any inappropriate conduct which could compromise the verdict.
So, did the juror have romantic feelings towards the prosecutor? Maybe, but his actions in this case did not constitute juror misconduct.
And that’s it for our analysis of the juror misconduct issues in this case. If you like what you hear and want more, please subscribe to our podcast and leave us a review.
And also check out our latest CLE on juror misconduct called: “Facebook & Today’s Juror: 2017’s 10 Biggest Juror Misconduct Events,” and use the code “podcast25”, that’s podcast two-five, for $25 off our regular CLE price exclusively for our podcast listeners. This CLE is accredited and/or approved for 1.5 general credit hours in 30 states and I’ll put the link to the registration page in our episode notes.
That’s it for today. This is Nilgün Zahour from SM JUROR, and remember, don’t let juror misconduct taint your verdict. See you next time.
Remember to use the coupon code “podcast25”, exclusively for our podcast listeners, for $25 off our CLE entitled, “Facebook & Today’s Juror: 2017’s 10 Biggest Juror Misconduct Events” which has been accredited & approved for 1.5 general CLE credit hours in 30 states. Click here to register for our CLE.
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