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Name: Grotemeyer v. Hickman
Case #: 02-17150
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 12/15/2004

No federal constitutional rights are implicated where a juror draws on her personal or professional experience to form her opinion. The underlying facts in the state prosecution for sexual assault were, in the 9th Circuit’s words, “peculiar … to the point of being seriously bizarre.” After his conviction, defendant filed a motion for a new trial based on claims by a juror who accused the jury foreperson of having used her own experience as a physician during deliberations. Among other alleged instances of misconduct, the foreperson had allegedly stated that in her medical opinion the defendant was mentally ill or disabled and that his condition had caused him to commit the crime. She had opined that an insanity defense should have been raised and expressed the view that if he were convicted he would receive treatment for his problems. The jury foreman submitted a declaration denying the allegations, but a California appellate court found misconduct and a presumption of prejudice from the juror’s reported statements to the effect that the defendant’s mental illness had caused him to commit the crime and that he would receive treatment in prison. The court found, however, that the presumption of prejudice had been rebutted. The Ninth Circuit affirmed, disregarding the bulk of the defendant’s claims as being based solely on state law, but holding that no United States Supreme Court decision held that the Sixth Amendment was violated where a juror used personal experience and expertise in deliberations. Under the federal constitution, no juror misconduct had occurred.