Friday, March 23, 2012

People v. Maharaj (Cal. Ct. App. - March 23, 2012)

The second paragraph of this case begins:  "Defendant contends (1) the trial court erred in denying his motion to remove a juror who expressed animosity toward defense counsel and fell asleep during the first day of trial . . . ."  The third paragraph begins by saying:  "For the following reasons, we affirm the judgment. First, with regard to the juror removal issue, the record supports the trial court's conclusion that the juror did not need to be removed for bias or inability to perform the functions of a juror."

When I read this, I was initially skeptical.  I've seen far too many criminal cases in which the Court of Appeal goes out of its way to overlook real problems with the jury and/or particular jurors.

But then I read the rest of the opinion.  The Court of Appeal is exactly right.  It may well be that the juror was not happy with the defense counsel.  But the juror said all the right things when examined by the trial court and defense counsel.  Given those responses, there was no basis for a dismissal.  I'd have done the exact same thing as the Court of Appeal.