The People of the State of New York are the respondents in this case of appeal. The appellant is James Lavender, who is appealing a verdict that was made by a jury in the Supreme Court of Bronx County on the 19th of March, 1984. This verdict convicted the defendant of attempted rape in the first degree and sentenced him to an indeterminate term of imprisonment of 25 years to life.
A New York Sex Crimes Lawyer said the appeal in this case is made by the defendant as a result of a jury trial. A hearing testimony was held and took place over a period of four days. The jury commenced into deliberations at close to 12 p.m. on February 6, 1984. After deliberations and a rereading of some of the testimony of the case, the jury went to their hotel for the night at 11 p.m.
The jury commenced deliberations at 10 a.m. the following day. At 11:45 the jurors sent a note to the court stating that they were deadlocked at a vote of 11 to 1. The one person that is holding out feels that there is not enough evidence in the case to make a decision. The note was shown to the attorneys at 2:55 p.m. The defendant’s attorney moved for a mistrial at this time. The court denied the motion and the jurors were advised by the court to continue their deliberations. A New York Sex Crimes Lawyer said the jurors sent out several additional notes to the court throughout the afternoon and evening. Three of the notes were complaining about the one hold out juror.
The counsel for the defense moved for a mistrial once again. The court recharged the jury in regard to the burglary charge and added an Allen charge. The defendant’s attorney objected to the Allen charge as coercive and renewed their motion for a mistrial. The defense attorney claimed that the further instruction was aimed at one juror that was voting for acquittal. The motion was once again denied. The jury was sent to a hotel for another night.
At 10 a.m. the jury resumed deliberations and sent the court two notes, one at 10:21 a.m. and the other at 11:02 a.m. A Nassau County Sex Crimes Lawyer said he notes both complained about the one juror and asked for advice on how they should proceed. For the fourth time the defense attorney moved for a mistrial and it was denied once again with the indication that this option would be entertained at 2:30.
The jurors were given a fifteen minute break outside of the jury room at 12:06 p.m. The hold out juror sent a note to the court at 2:04 p.m. stating that another juror had threatened her and came at her ready to attack. She stated that if the other jurors would not have held her back she would have hit me. She goes on to state that this is a bad action for a juror to take when one person is trying to state their opinion.
Shortly after this a verdict was reached. The court had not responded to any of the notes that were sent by the jury that day.
Court Discussion and Decision
The defendant has moved to have this verdict struck as it is felt that the juror was forced into the decision. A Queens Sex Crimes Lawyer said the court agrees with this and has ruled in favor of the defendant and a new trial will be conducted in this case.
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