Hey, Lawyers! How do you arrive at a Hung Jury?

I’m not here to debate the guilt or innocence of the defendant in the Officer Ceriale (sp) murder trial in Chicago. What I don’t understand is this: If a jury of 12 people came up 11 to 1 against the defendant (all or nothing is the system here – not a majority rule situation), why does the prosecution get a 2nd chance at trying this guy? The man was not proven guilty by the standards the courts have set. Why will he be tried again? To me, this goes against the basic rules of prosecution, but what do I know. Someone please 'splain.

Part two to my question is, how does the court define “a jury of your peers”? It seems that if we choose a jury that closely resembles the defendant’s background,etc., we should be seeing gang-banger juries, rich white businessman juries, etc., not the housewives and secretaries and blue-collar workers that currently make up juries. How do they choose?

In answer to the first question (not from a lawyer), he can be tried again because the jury did not reach a decision. It’s not that he was found not guilty, but rather that he wasn’t found anything. So it’s kind of a “do-over.”

Well, in my book, there shouldn’t be ‘do-overs’. If they didn’t prove him guilty, he’s automatically innocent, isn’t he? Because you start out being innocent. Right? Am I the only one who thinks this is unfair?

He is presumed innocent until proven guilty. But that doesn’t mean the lack of a decision makes him not guilty under the law. It just means the jury couldn’t decide.

Let’s look at this case. Would it really be right to release this guy because of one person holding out against the other 11? Especially when it turns out that this one person probably should never have been on the jury in the first place (he had been previously convicted of a drug crime, but due to a couple slips, was never asked directly about it in jury questioning).

Double-jeopardy laws keep us from trying somebody again after a jury has rendered a verdict. The jury has rendered no verdict here, so there is nothing to prevent his retrial. I don’t see this as a problem.

Because you just KNOW some cretin would have to say this…

"Hey, Lawyers! How do you arrive at a Hung Jury? "

…get John Holmes on the jury :stuck_out_tongue:


If anybody in the rest of the world is interested in the Ceriale trial…

Kudos, IMO, to the judge for displaying sturdy Midwestern common sense and halting the proceedings.

And, er, DavidB? Shipp wasn’t “previously convicted of a drug crime.”

Are we all supposed to wash our dirty linen in public during the jury selection process? “Well, I once got a speeding ticket…”


(Edited to fix broken link)

[Edited by David B on 02-09-2001 at 08:49 PM]

The defendant is “innocent until proven guilty” insofar as that he cannot be punished until a jury has unanimously decided his guilt. However, he can be prosecuted until such time as a jury unanimously determines that he’s not guilty. A hung jury has failed to do either.

It’s not entirely correct that you “start out being innocent”. “Innocent until proven guilty” is a nice phrase but it doesn’t represent the totality of the process. You start out uncertain with a presumption of innocence, but you’re not “proven innocent” until the jury says so, unanimously.

you have jurors that can’t think, don’t know what DNA is. lawyers trained to play psychological manipulation games on jurors. who cares about truth and logic.

so we end up with people on death row who are later proven innocent by DNA.

it’s a brainless injustice system.

Dal Timgar

Okay, I get the “innocent until proven guilty” thing, but what about the jury of your peers portion of my OP? Exactly what is a “peer” in the court’s eyes?

[irrelevant aside] I really like the Pyroto system (www.pyroto.com) because when other posters get too irritating, I can demote them or drain their manna and prevent their even logging on.[/irrelevant aside]


Peers simply means other citizens. The Supreme Court has held that neither side may remove potential jurors from the pool based on race (the Batson decision) and certain Batson progeny suggest that gender is also impermissible. But an accused plumber does not have a right to trial by a jury of plumbers.

The veniere is selected in each county from a variey of sources - voting registrations, driver’s license registrations, and the like. The pool is examined to weed out any ineligibles, such as (in some places) convicted felons, or non-citizens. The jurors are then subjected to voir dire questioning by the court and/or the lawyers. This is done to identify any jurors who cannot follow the judge’s instructions, or who display an obvious bias of some kind, such that their participation would clearly result in an unfair trial. Each side typically has a number of “preemptory” challanges, as well as unlimited “challenges for cause.”

The result is a jury of the accused’s peers, as that term is meant.


What system is better?

  • Rick

Where did this phrase “jury of one’s peers” come from? I can’t find it in the Constitution.

IANAL, but it appears that the notion of “jury of one’s peers” has come from SCOTUS and other court interpretations of the the 14th amendment’s “equal protection of the laws”.


KellyM the United States does not have a “found innocent by jury” verdict. You’re found guilty or not guilty. not guilty does not necessarily mean you were innocent or that the jury thought you were innocent, simply that they didn’t feel the burden of proof had been met (beyond a reasonable doubt). Other jurisdictions (I’ve heard), do have a “innocent” verdict available.

TheRyan the Constitution does not contain absolutely every aspect of life/law in it. I don’t believe, for example, that you’ll find licensing and zoning laws mentioned there, either.

when a system begins showing its flaws it is time to start figuring out how to upgrade the system. i’m not thinking in terms of competing systems.

i think technology makes it necessary to upgrade the juries. not anybody can be a juror, must pass reasoning and scientific knowledge tests. i know a lot of people are going to scream about that, but look at what has happened with technology in the last 30 years. sooner or later their will be no choice. upgrade the juries or the citizenry as a whole. considering the nonsense going on in the schools it’s a good bet we are not going to upgrade the citizenry.

Dal Timgar

A few problems here:

  1. DNA testing, just like fingerprints, matching clothing fibers, photographs, videotape, eyewitness testimony, etc., is merely EVIDENCE, not PROOF. There ain’t no such thing as proof in a court of law. It’s up to the jury to decide how to interpret, and weigh the importance of, each piece of evidence. And it’s up to attorneys to deciede which evidence to present, and how to present it, so that their case looks best.

  2. Therefore, it’s up to the attorney to provide experts, etc., who can interpret the evidence in such a way that the judge and jury understand it. If the attorney can’t explain the significance of a piece of evidence to a juror, then he/she has failed–not the juror.

For instance, I have no idea how the position/condition of gunshot entry/exit wounds can reveal where the shooter was/was not standing. But forensic detectives do. It’s the attoreny’s job to get those detectives to try to explain the evidence to me (the juror) in a convincing–and comprehensible–manner.

It looks like it was brought over from England with other bits of common law, according to Britannica.com. I’d thought that it referred to the right to have a jury made up of commoners or nobles depending on whether you were a commoner or a noble.

It wouldn’t come up much now, and it doesn’t come up at all in the States, but I seem to remember hearing about a case where a British lord exercised his right to a trial in the House of Lords. I’ll try do find a cite, but my memory’s pretty hazy.

In the United States, “jury of one’s peers” means “people”. In England it meant that a commoner should be tried by commoners and not by landed lords. The United States has no landed nobility, so it just means “people”. It’s an artifact of British common law. It does not mean that you are entitled to be tried by a jury of people “like you” in any specific sense.

Wring: “Innocent” and “Not guilty” mean the same thing, legally, at least within the criminal law. The choice to call the verdict “not guilty” is stylistic rather than substantive (IMO). A jury’s finding of “not guilty” means that the defendant is innocent, for the purposes of the criminal law. It does not, of course, mean that the defendant is not liable for damages; the civil law has different standards of proof.

Quite aware of the distinctions, thank you. I was commenting on your statement that

which is not technically true. Yes, they are not found criminally guilty.

You may have seen it as a nitpick- however, it can lead to problematical situations if one makes a statement such as “the jury proved me innocent”. I don’t agree at all that the differences are stylistic rather than substantive. When the state has presented a case before a judge twice (prelim exam and the trial), and only to fail to make the burden of proof for a guilty verdict in the criminal trial, there still often remains a sense of “he gottaway with it” (OJ anyone?). So, the difference is very substantive, IMHO.

Duck Duck Goose said:

Dammit! That’ll teach me to rely on memory early in the morning. Thanks for the correction.

If you are asked by the judge or one of the attorneys, yes. Apparently, a question about whether you’d been charged of such a crime was supposed to be asked of each juror, but they accidentally missed him.

Other jurors have also claimed that he made all sorts of racial comments indicating that he wasn’t going to vote to convict a black man. For example, he supposedly said something like, “When blacks are born, they are issued two sets of paperwork: A birth certificate and a police record.”

But anyway, I digress.