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Name: People v. Cissna
Case #: D053464
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 02/26/2010

A juror’s discussions about the case with a friend were prejudicial misconduct. Appellant was charged with eight sex offenses committed against his granddaughter. During the trial, a juror ignored admonitions and discussed the case daily with a nonjuror friend. Appellant found out about the misconduct after the guilty verdict and moved for a new trial. The trial court denied the motion. The appellate court reversed, finding that the trial court erred in denying the new trial motion. The juror conduct here was both pervasive (occurring every day of the trial) and substantive (involving discussions of the merits of the case). The discussions violated the juror’s obligation not to discuss the case at all with a nonjuror and also contravened the defendant’s right to a jury free from outside influence. The record showed a substantial likelihood of juror bias and that the right to an impartial jury was prejudicially tainted.