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Name: People v. Santos
Case #: B187213
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 5
Opinion Date: 02/20/2007
Summary

Following their verdict against appellant for robbery-murder, the jury asked to be allowed to leave the courtroom through a private corridor, thereby avoiding speaking with the parties. On appeal, appellant argued that the decision to allow the jury to exit the courtroom through a private passage was a critical stage of the proceedings, and the exclusion of him and counsel from that procedure was error. He also argued that his constitutional right to due process and to a jury trial was violated since he was deprived of a fair opportunity to investigate jury misconduct. The court rejected his argument, finding that due process does not require that the jurors be exposed to a defendant once they have been discharged. Jurors have the right to refuse to discuss the case without violating due process. The issue of the exit from the courtroom being a critical stage of the proceedings was forfeited, as it was not raised below. Further, the means of exiting the courtroom was not a critical stage because it was unrelated to the jury’s determination of guilt. Further, there was no prejudice demonstrated from the jurors’ departure. Also, appellant conceded that he could not make a showing of any juror misconduct, so it was not error to deny appellant the ability to confront the jurors after trial.