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Fourth Department – Jury misconduct: People v. Woodard

By: Daily Record Staff//June 5, 2023

Fourth Department – Jury misconduct: People v. Woodard

By: Daily Record Staff//June 5, 2023

New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Fourth Judicial Department

Jury misconduct

Racism allegations

People v. Woodard

KA 17-00339

Appealed from Supreme Court, Monroe County

Background: The defendant appealed from his conviction of conspiracy, criminal sale of a controlled substance, and criminal possession of a controlled substance. The defendant moved to set aside the verdict on the ground of misconduct during jury deliberations. He alleged that two jurors indicated that other jurors may have had undisclosed preexisting prejudices against the defendant’s race that may have affected the defendant’s substantial right to an impartial jury and fair trial.

Ruling: The Appellate Division affirmed. The court noted that the jury were unanimous in their testimony that none of them had heard a racial slur uttered during deliberations and most of the jurors did not recall race being discussed. One of the few jurors who recalled conversations about race, disclaimed that the comments had any impact on the verdict, which involved acquittals on various charges against several of the defendants involved in the trial. The remaining jurors provided, at most, ambivalent opinions based on a personal feeling or sentiment about the deliberations or an intuition about the energy in the jury room.

Kathleen P. Reardon, of the Conflict Defender’s office, for the defendant-appellant; Jodi A. Danzig, of the NYS Office of the Attorney General, for the respondent.

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