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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 52106 Find in a Library
Title: RIGHT TO JURY UNANIMITY OF MATERIAL FACT ISSUES - UNITED STATES V GIPSON
Journal: HARVARD LAW REVIEW  Volume:91  Issue:2  Dated:(DECEMBER 1977)  Pages:499-505
Author(s): ANON
Corporate Author: Harvard Law Review Assoc
Harvard Law Review
United States of America
Date Published: 1977
Page Count: 7
Sponsoring Agency: Harvard Law Review Assoc
Cambridge, MA 02138
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: THE QUESTION OF WHETHER A GUILTY VERDICT IS ALLOWABLE WHEN JURORS AGREE THAT SOME PROHIBITED ACT HAS BEEN COMMITTED BUT DO NOT AGREE EXACTLY WHICH ACT HAS BEEN COMMITTED IS DISCUSSED.
Abstract: WHEN A CRIMINAL DEFENDANT IS CHARGED UNDER A STATUTE THAT CAN BE VIOLATED BY ANY ONE OF SEVERAL DISTINCT ACTS, THE POSSIBILITY ARISES THAT JURORS WILL AGREE THAT THE DEFENDANT HAS DONE SOMETHING ILLEGAL AND THUS IS GUILTY, WITHOUT AGREEING WHICH ACT THE DEFENDANT HAS COMMITTED. MOST STATE COURTS THAT HAVE CONSIDERED THE MATTER HAVE HELD SUCH 'PATCHWORK' GUILTY VERDICTS TO MEET JURY UNANIMITY REQUIREMENTS. BUT IN UNITED STATES VS. GIPSON, THE FIRST FEDERAL CASE TO ADDRESS THE ISSUE, THE U.S. COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT HELD THAT A DEFENDANT'S SIXTH AMENDMENT AND STATUTORY RIGHT TO A UNANIMOUS JURY VERDICT WAS VIOLATED WHEN THE TRIAL COURT INSTRUCTED THE JURORS THAT THEY COULD RETURN A GUILTY VERDICT IF EVERY JUROR BELIEVED THAT THE DEFENDANT HAD COMMITTED SOME PROHIBITED ACT, EVEN IF THEY DID NOT UNANIMOUSLY AGREE WHICH PARTICULAR ACT HAD BEEN PERPETRATED. (THE CASE INVOLVED CHARGES THAT THE DEFENDANT HAD RECEIVED, CONCEALED, STORED, BARTERED, SOLD, AND DISPOSED OF A MOTOR VEHICLE INVOLVED IN INTERSTATE COMMERCE.) BECAUSE A SIXTH AMENDMENT RIGHT TO JURY CONSENSUS ON MATERIAL FACT ISSUES WAS FOUND, THE GIPSON DECISION MAY HAVE A BROAD IMPACT ON CRIMINAL TRIALS. COURTS MAY CHOOSE AMONG SEVERAL METHODS TO PROTECT THE RIGHT DELINEATED IN GIPSON. SOME OF THE METHODS ARE MORE INTRUSIVE ON TRADITIONAL JURY PREROGATIVES THAN OTHERS. THE GIPSON HOLDING EXPRESSLY PERTAINS TO FEDERAL CRIMINAL TRIALS AND DOES NOT ADDRESS STATE PROCEDURES IN PATCHWORK VERDICT SITUATIONS. HOWEVER, THE ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS OF THE RIGHT TO JURY TRIAL HAVE BEEN INCORPORATED INTO THE DUE PROCESS CLAUSE OF THE 14TH AMENDMENT AND APPLIED TO THE STATES. BECAUSE THE RIGHT DELINEATED TO GIPSON IS FUNDAMENTAL TO THE ESSENTIALS OF JURY TRIAL, THE GIPSON HOLDING SHOULD BE BINDING UPON THE STATES. (AUTHOR ABSTRACT MODIFIED--LKM)
Index Term(s): Federal courts; Judicial decisions; Jury instructions; Right to trial by jury; Rights of the accused
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http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=52106

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