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Name: U.S. v. Rosales-Rodriguez
Case #: 00-50145
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 05/08/2002
Subsequent History: Cert. den. 12/2/02

During appellant’s trial for possession with intent to distribute marijuana, the court, without knowledge of the parties, sent an unsolicited note to the jurors informing them that if they were still deliberating at the end of the day (a Friday), an alternate juror would replace one of the jurors and the panel would have to begin deliberations anew the following week. The jury returned a verdict a short time later, at 11:00 a.m.. Here, the appellate court found that the trial court committed constitutional and statutory violations. However, the error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. The verdict was returned long before the 4:30 deadline, which would imply that the jurors had no trouble reaching a verdict and that the instruction was not coercive. Further, the evidence of guilt was overwhelming and the defense “dubious.”