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Name: People v. Engstrom
Case #: C065982
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 11/28/2011

Jury conduct that amounts to critical examination of the evidence admitted, as opposed to conduct resulting in the acquisition of new evidence, is not misconduct that supports a motion for new trial. Appellant was convicted of possession of marijuana for sale and cultivation of marijuana, and being armed in the commission of each offense. At trial, appellant testified that he used medical marijuana. A defense expert witness testified as to the formula he used to calculate the yield of the marijuana plants found in appellant’s residence, with a factor in the calculation being the light to the plants. During jury deliberations, a juror with an engineering background, questioned the formula and, using a calculator, recalculated the yield employing a different ratio. Following appellant’s conviction, the trial court granted a new trial on the basis of alleged juror misconduct, with the misconduct being the recalculation. The appellate court reversed. Improper experiments by the jury are those that allow the jury to discover new evidence by considering areas not examined during trial. Conduct that is simply a more critical examination of the evidence admitted at trial is not misconduct. (People v. Collins (2010) 49 Cal.4th 175.) Here, no juror brought in outside evidence for consideration or reported the results of secret experiments to the other jurors. Instead, the jurors simply changed a single factor in the expert’s formula, substituting the size of the marijuana garden’s floor space for the size of the room where the marijuana plants were grown, to calculate the yield. This did not constitute misconduct.