961 P.2d 1203 (Idaho App. 1998), 23816, State v. Lee

Docket Nº:23816.
Citation:961 P.2d 1203, 131 Idaho 600
Opinion Judge:PERRY,
Party Name:STATE of Idaho, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. Samuel M. LEE, Defendant-Appellant.
Attorney:Nancy L. Callahan, Gem County Public Defender, Emmett, for appellant. Nancy L. Callahan argued., Alan G. Lance, Attorney General; Kenneth K. Jorgensen, Deputy Attorney General,, Boise, for respondent. Kenneth K. Jorgensen argued. Nancy L. Callahan, Gem County Public Defender, Emmett, for appella...
Judge Panel:LANSING, C.J., and SCHWARTZMAN, J., concur.
Case Date:April 03, 1998
Court:Court of Appeals of Idaho
 
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Page 1203

961 P.2d 1203 (Idaho App. 1998)

131 Idaho 600

STATE of Idaho, Plaintiff-Respondent,

v.

Samuel M. LEE, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 23816.

Court of Appeals of Idaho.

April 3, 1998

Rehearing Denied May 12, 1998.

Review Denied July 2, 1998.

Page 1204

[131 Idaho 601] Nancy L. Callahan, Gem County Public Defender, Emmett, for appellant. Nancy L. Callahan argued.

Alan G. Lance, Attorney General; Kenneth K. Jorgensen, Deputy Attorney General,

Page 1205

[131 Idaho 602] Boise, for respondent. Kenneth K. Jorgensen argued.

PERRY, Judge.

Samuel M. Lee appeals from his judgments of conviction and sentences entered following a jury trial. Lee contends that the jury deliberation process was tainted by undue pressure and, consequently, the district court erred when it denied his motion for mistrial.

I.

FACTS AND PROCEDURE

A car was stolen from a parking lot in Emmett by an unknown man and woman. The car was then sold to Juan Ramirez and Vincente Zapata. Approximately one month later, the police arrested Ramirez and Zapata, and they led the police to Lee and Melody Logan. Lee was charged with burglary, I.C. § 18-1401; grand theft, I.C. §§ 18-2403(1) and -2407(1)(b); and was alleged to be a persistent violator, I.C. § 19-2514.

Lee and Logan went to trial before a jury. At trial, a man who witnessed the crime from his parked car testified that he could positively identify Logan as the woman who stole the car. The witness was unable to positively identify Lee as the man who aided Logan in the theft. The witness described the man who was with Logan, and Lee fit that description. However, the witness stated that he could not definitely identify Lee because he did not watch the man as closely as he watched the woman.

Ramirez and Zapata both testified that Lee was with Logan when she sold them the car. Ramirez testified that he saw Lee and Logan in a bar in Caldwell. Logan asked if Ramirez was interested in buying a car, and Ramirez and Zapata left with Logan to look at the car. They bought some gas, Ramirez and Zapata gave Logan money for the car and Logan signed some papers. Later that night Logan and Lee received a ride home in the stolen car.

Following presentation of the evidence, the jury began deliberations at 12:10 p.m. on the second day of trial. During the next four hours the jury made two written communications to the district court. The first note regarded the testimony of a witness and is irrelevant to this appeal. In the second note the jury indicated that it had found Lee and Logan guilty by a vote of eleven to one. 1 The district court instructed the jury in writing to continue deliberating.

At 4:20 p.m. the jury informed the district court that it had reached a verdict. The proceedings were delayed because Lee and Logan absconded. The court reconvened at 5:20 p.m. in their absence. The jury foreperson announced that the jury had reached a unanimous guilty verdict. Defense counsel requested that the jury be polled. Each juror indicated that the guilty verdict was his or her true verdict, until juror number nine (Juror 9) was polled. When asked if the verdict was her true verdict, Juror 9 responded, "I have a problem with it." The district court instructed the clerk to continue polling the rest of the jury, and it was revealed that Juror 9 was the lone dissenting juror.

The district court then asked if either of the attorneys wished to question Juror 9, and Lee's counsel responded that she did. The following dialogue ensued:

[Lee's Counsel]: [Juror 9], would you please tell the court--did you come to a unanimous verdict for the purposes of coming up ... with a unanimous verdict?

[Prosecutor]: Your Honor, I would object to the question. I think the issue is whether or not the verdict is [a] unanimous decision of the twelve jurors, and that is what the inquiry should be, if any.

[Court]: I'll sustain the objection.

....

[Lee's Counsel]: [Juror 9], what was your problem with the verdict?

[Juror 9]: That one of the defendants was unidentified, and in order to come to this conclusion was that they had said that they

Page 1206

had [131 Idaho 603] always been together. And if I went against one it would sink the other, but I was not sure.

[Court]: Let me go back and ... there are two different verdicts, okay. So I am going to have the clerk ask you the question first on the verdict of Melody Logan, you can respond to that verdict.

....

[Clerk]: Okay. Is this your true verdict on Melody Logan?

[Juror 9]: My true verdict is I don't believe everything. There wasn't sufficient evidence for me to convict, and to come to this decision.

[Prosecutor]: Your honor, I am going to object to this proceeding. I--I think that the issue is whether or not the verdict is unanimous, and I don't know about the inquiry of a juror beyond the point of whether or not she agreed with the verdict.

....

[Court]: Well, we are--the defense is entitled to poll the--the jury, and--I haven't gotten--I have gotten a problem with one juror in terms of whether or not that is her verdict, and I am trying to ascertain what that is. I am going to ask then, as to the verdict of Samuel Lee, and have the question posed to you.

....

[Juror 9]: He was unidentified, so I had to--

[Court]: No, please, just answer the question as the clerk presents it to you.

[Juror 9]: Oh, okay. Excuse me.

[Court]: In other words, we have got two verdicts, one for Samuel Lee, and one for Melody Logan; and they have come back as being guilty on both counts, burglary and grand theft. The question then, is that your true verdict?

[Juror 9]: No.

[Lee's Counsel]: Your Honor, I move for a mistrial.

[Court]: I am going to go ahead and--and excuse the jury for further proceedings with the attorneys, and we will take this matter up out of the presence of the jury.

After hearing argument by counsel, the district court called the jurors back in and stated:

Members of the jury, the court is going to go ahead and dismiss you for tonight, and then have you return tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. to continue your deliberations.

The main reason--the main reason is that we have two defendants. We have multiple felony counts. And in these types of situations it's not unreasonable to have the jury deliberate for more than four or five hours.

And so I don't think, based on the amount of energy and effort you have expended today, that it would be fruitful to continue tonight, and so what the court will do is excuse you for the evening and have you return at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow morning. Thank you.

The jury began deliberations at 9:00 a.m. the next morning. At 12:22 p.m. court reconvened and the jury announced its unanimous guilty verdict on burglary and grand...

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