Jimenez v. Myers, 91-56476

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM; KOZINSKI
Citation12 F.3d 1474
PartiesGregorio JIMENEZ, Petitioner-Appellant, v. E.R. MYERS, Warden; Attorney General of California, Respondents-Appellees.
Docket NumberNo. 91-56476,91-56476
Decision Date08 December 1993

Page 1474

12 F.3d 1474
Gregorio JIMENEZ, Petitioner-Appellant,
E.R. MYERS, Warden; Attorney General of California,
No. 91-56476.
United States Court of Appeals,
Ninth Circuit.
Argued and Submitted March 2, 1993.
Decided Dec. 8, 1993.

Page 1475

Howard C. Cohen, Appellate Defenders, Inc., San Diego, CA, for petitioner-appellant.

Peggy S. Ruffra, Deputy Atty. Gen., Los Angeles, CA, for respondents-appellees.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of California.

Before: BROWNING, HUG, and KOZINSKI, Circuit Judges.


Gregorio Jimenez appeals the district court's denial of his petition for a writ of habeas corpus based on the claim that the state trial judge coerced the jury into rendering a guilty verdict in violation of Jimenez's Fourteenth Amendment right to due process.


Jimenez fired two shots through the front door of his cousin's house after she ran inside following an argument. He was convicted of attempted murder. At trial he claimed he intended only to frighten his cousin and had not fired until he believed she had moved away from the door. In an effort to gain an acquittal, Jimenez and his counsel made a "tactical decision ... not to seek any lesser included offenses or submit instructions thereon for the jury's consideration." In addition to describing the elements of attempted murder and giving other standard charges, the court instructed the jury that each juror should decide the case after discussion, but without succumbing to the pressure of the majority. 1

After four and three quarter hours of deliberations, the jury sent the judge a note stating, "We are unable to reach a verdict and feel strongly that we would not be able to reach a verdict." Defense counsel took the position that "[i]n a case like this with this type of emotions and feelings, if they're deadlocked now, they're rarely going to change." The court called in the jury and

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engaged in the following exchange with the foreperson:

THE COURT: What I would like to know, how many votes have been taken?

FOREPERSON: Five or six.

THE COURT: Without telling me which direction, just numerically, how did it start, and what was it on the last?

FOREPERSON: [I will] Try to tell you numerically without [indicating] either way. To the best of my recollection, it started out about maybe seven to five, eight to four. Went to nine to three. All right. To back up, this morning, nine, two, and one.... This afternoon though, nine to three.

* * * * * *

THE COURT: All right. So you did have--how about in between, nine-two and one and then nine-three, has there been any movement one way or the other?

FOREPERSON: Nine-one-two, I would say at this point. And yes, there has been some movement in one direction.

THE COURT: Okay. Well, that's what's important to me because of the nature of the type of case. I want to find out that there has been movement.

After a three-day weekend, the jury returned to its deliberations. Three hours later, the jury sent another note to the court stating, "We are at an impasse and request further direction." The prosecutor responded, "If the impasse means that they're once again hopelessly hung, perhaps now would be the time to accept that and set it for retrial." Defense counsel agreed, "Any further pressure upon [the jury] would be prejudicial to the defendant." The court declared it would bring the jurors back to the courtroom to "see if there's been any substantial movement at all. If there has not been, then I'll have to declare a mistrial."

The court's questions to the jury and the foreperson's responses were as follows:

THE COURT: Okay. Now last Friday I inquired of you as to whether or not there had been any movement by the jury. So I'll ask you that same question again with the understanding, all I want is numbers, not which direction you're at. How many votes have you taken since last Friday?

FOREPERSON: Two or three. Two.

COURT: Two more?


COURT: What's the latest?

FOREPERSON: Eleven-one.

COURT: So there has been, then, substantial movement since the last time.


THE COURT: All right. Due to the fact we have had that type of movement, I would request, then, to finish the rest of today and see where we are at that point in time. All right? Okay.

Defense counsel objected and asked the court to inquire whether further deliberation would be fruitful. Counsel explained, "if there's one person in there that's for not guilty, it's putting them on a tremendous amount of pressure, and I don't think they should be subjected to that pressure." The court concluded the hold-out juror would not be subjected to "undue pressure" in light of the substantial change in the vote within the jury in the course of their deliberations and because the jury had been asked to deliberate "the rest of today"--about two more hours. The jury returned a guilty verdict after an hour and forty-eight minutes of additional deliberation.

Jimenez raised the issue of jury coercion without success on appeal to the California Court of Appeal and in a petition for review to the California Supreme Court. Jimenez then filed this petition for a writ of habeas corpus.

The magistrate judge recommended the writ be granted on the ground the state trial judge had coerced the hold-out juror into joining in the guilty verdict. The magistrate judge noted that the state trial judge twice polled the jury about the jury's numerical division on the merits after the jury had announced an impasse; that the prosecution and defense agreed to accept a deadlock after the jury's second note, but the court refused; and that the judge's comments to the jury strongly implied the jury's movement from an initial division of seven to five to a division of eleven to one should continue

Page 1477

toward unanimity. The district court disagreed, stating, inter alia, that the hold-out juror would not have felt coerced because he or she would have known the judge would declare a mistrial at the end of the day.


Whether the trial judge coerced the jury into rendering a guilty verdict is a mixed question of law and fact "requiring the application of legal principles to the historical facts." Hamilton v. Vasquez, 882 F.2d 1469, 1471 (9th Cir.1989). Accordingly, our review of the "legal weight" given to the facts is de novo. See Sumner v. Mata, 455 U.S. 591, 597 & n. 10, 102 S.Ct. 1303, 1306-07 & n. 10, 71 L.Ed.2d 480 (1982); Hamilton, 882 F.2d at 1471; Torrey v. Estelle, 842 F.2d 234, 235 (9th Cir.1988). We consider whether the court's actions were coercive under a totality of the circumstances test. See United States v. Seawell, 550 F.2d 1159, 1163 (9th Cir.1977) ("the general test of whether a supplemental jury instruction is in error is to consider all the circumstances to determine if the instruction was coercive"); Marsh v. Cupp, 536 F.2d 1287, 1290 (9th Cir.1976) (test for jury coercion is " 'whether in its context and under all the circumstances of this case the statement was coercive' "). 2

Although this case does not specifically involve review of an Allen charge, see Allen v. United States, 164 U.S. 492, 17 S.Ct. 154, 41 L.Ed. 528 (1896), clearly our Allen charge cases are relevant. They consider four factors in determining whether there has been undue coercion:

1) the form of the supplemental instruction;

2) the period of deliberations following the instruction;

3) the total time of deliberations;

4) any indicia of coerciveness or pressure.

United States v. Wauneka, 842 F.2d 1083, 1088 (9th Cir.1988). We consider the same factors in this case to determine whether, under the totality of the circumstances, the trial judge coerced the jury. We recognize, however, that coercion must be more severe to constitute a violation of due process than to invoke our supervisory powers. See Donnelly v. DeChristoforo, 416 U.S. 637, 642-43, 94 S.Ct. 1868, 1871, 40 L.Ed.2d 431 (1974).

1) The Form of the Exchange Between Judge and Jury--The jury twice informed the trial judge it had reached an impasse. The trial judge twice asked the jury for their numerical split on the merits, and both times sent the jury back for further deliberations on the stated ground there had been movement toward unanimity. The court indicated its approval of the movement and expressed the hope it would continue. The form of the exchange placed pressure first on the three hold-out jurors, and finally on the single hold-out juror, to join the others in the movement toward unanimity.

Because an Allen charge carries the potential for jury coercion, we require a trial judge using the charge to instruct jurors not to surrender their sincere convictions when they reassess their positions. United States v. Bonam, 772 F.2d 1449, 1451 (9th Cir.1985); United States v. Mason, 658 F.2d 1263, 1268 (9th Cir.1981) ("the integrity of individual conscience in the jury deliberation process must not be compromised"). Although the trial judge in this case placed pressure on the hold-out jurors to reconsider their views, he did not remind them no juror "should be influenced to decide any question in a particular way because a majority of the jurors ...

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favor such a decision." 3 "It is essential [in cases where the trial judge's actions and comments place pressure on hold-out jurors] to remind jurors of their duty and obligation not to surrender conscientiously held beliefs simply to secure a verdict for either party." Mason, 658 F.2d at 1268.

2) Period of Deliberation After the Exchange--The jury reached its verdict one hour and forty-eight minutes after returning to deliberations following the second note. 4 This period does not raise an inference of coercion. Compare Bonam, 772 F.2d at 1451 (no inference of coercion for verdict delivered an hour and a half after Allen charge where issue was simple and jury told it could take as much time as it needed), with United States v. Contreras, ...

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  • Jiminez v. Myers
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Ninth Circuit
    • 28 Octubre 1994
    ...BROWNING, HUG, and KOZINSKI, Circuit Judges. PER CURIAM; Dissent by Judge KOZINSKI ORDER The opinion filed December 8, 1993, slip op. at 13767, 12 F.3d 1474, is amended by substituting the attached part II for that originally PER CURIAM: Gregorio Jiminez appeals the district court's denial ......
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