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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 64514 Find in a Library
Title: INCONSISTENT AND REPUGNANT VERDICTS IN CRIMINAL TRIALS
Journal: NEW YORK LAW SCHOOL LAW REVIEW  Volume:24  Issue:3  Dated:(1979)  Pages:713-742
Author(s): S T WAX
Corporate Author: New York Law School
United States of America
Date Published: 1979
Page Count: 30
Sponsoring Agency: New York Law School
New York, NY 10013
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: THE NATURE OF INCONSISTENT VERDICTS, VARYING JUDICIAL RESPONSES, METHODS OF AVOIDING AND CORRECTING POTENTIALLY INCONSISTENT VERDICTS AT THE TRIAL LEVEL, AND A PROPOSED RULE FOR VERDICT TREATMENT ARE DISCUSSED.
Abstract: INCONSISTENT AND REPUGNANT VERDICTS HAVE INCREASED SIGNIFICANTLY IN CRIMINAL JURY TRIALS. IN PEOPLE V. CARBONELL (1976) THE DEFENDANT WAS INDICTED ON SEVERAL COUNTS OF ROBBERY AND LARCENY. THE JURY WAS INSTRUCTED TO DELIBERATE ON ALL OF THE ROBBERY AND LARCENY COUNTS AS WELL AS ON LESSER INCLUDED ROBBERY AND LARCENY OFFENSES. THE JURY MISUNDERSTOOD THE UNCLEAR INSTRUCTIONS AND FOUND THE DEFENDANT GUILTY OF ROBBERY IN THE THIRD DEGREE BUT NOT GUILTY ON ALL OTHER COUNTS. THE APPEALS COURT REVERSED, HOLDING THAT THE CRIME OF LARCENY IS AN ESSENTIAL ELEMENT OF ROBBERY. IN ANOTHER CASE, A DEFENDANT WAS CONVICTED OF ROBBERY IN THE FIRST DEGREE BUT ACQUITTED OF THE CHARGE OF POSSESSION OF A WEAPON AS A FELONY ALTHOUGH IT APPEARED THAT HE POSSESSED A GUN AT THE TIME OF THE ROBBERY. APPEARING THROUGHOUT THE DISCORDANT DECISIONS ON INCONSISTENT IS A LACK OF CLARITY AS TO WHETHER INCONSISTENCY IN VERDICTS IS DEFINED BY REFERENCE TO THE FACTS OF THE CASE OR BY RECOURSE TO LEGAL ELEMENTS OF THE CRIMES UPON WHICH THE OPPOSING VERDICTS WERE RETURNED. THE MANNER IN WHICH OFFENSES ARE CHARGED TO THE JURY SHOULD BE SIMPLIFIED. A CHARGE WHICH CLEARLY INFORMS THE JURY THAT IT IS TO CONSIDER LESSER COUNTS ONLY IF IT REACHES A VERDICT OF NOT GUILTY ON GREATER COUNTS WOULD ELIMINATE MANY INCONSISTENT VERDICTS. THE ORDER IN WHICH CHARGES ARE TO BE CONSIDERED SHOULD BE DELINEATED. THE JUDICIAL RESPONSE TO INCONSISTENT VERDICTS IS ALSO MARKED BY THE ABSENCE OF A COMMON APPROACH. CURRENTLY, COURTS REFINE OR REVISE THE MEANING OF INCONSISTENT VERDICTS ON A CASE-BY-CASE BASIS TO SUPPORT A PARTICULAR RESULT. WHEN ACQUITTAL ON ONE CHARGE IS CONCLUSIVE AS TO AN ELEMENT WHICH IS NECESSARY TO AND INHERENT IN A CHARGE ON WHICH A CONVICTION HAS OCCURRED, THE CONVICTION SHOULD BE REVERSED. IN ADDITION, SECTIONS 300.40, 300.50, AND 310.50 OF THE NEW YORK CRIMINAL PROCEDURE LAW PROVIDE GUIDELINES FOR THE CHARGING OF JURIES AND THE ACCEPTANCE OF JURY VERDICTS AND SHOULD BE FOLLOWED. FOOTNOTES ARE INCLUDED. (LWM)
Index Term(s): Criminal proceedings; Jury decisionmaking; Jury instructions; Trial procedures; Verdicts
To cite this abstract, use the following link:
http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=64514

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