On Tuesday, the New York State Court of Appeals rejected the petition of a convicted murderer for a new trial, in spite of claims that a juror had fallen asleep during jury deliberations. The appellate court found that the trial judge’s refusal to dismiss Juror 11 – despite complaints by a fellow juror of the juror falling asleep while deliberating on the fate of the defendant – was within her rights, and she did not abuse her discretion.
In a unanimous unsigned order, the appellate court wrote, “While there are circumstances where a juror’s behavior during deliberations renders that juror grossly unqualified, in this situation the trial judge did not abuse her discretion when she decided that Juror 11 was fit to serve on the jury.”
Carlos Herring, 32, was charged in connection with a 2006 shooting in which one man was killed and another wounded seriously. The charges included second-degree murder, assault, and related weapons charges. During the trial, Juror 7 complained to the County Court Judge that Juror 11 had fallen asleep. The judge called the juror to her room, and the juror denied that she had fallen asleep and held herself ready and able to serve as a juror.
Herring’s lawyer wanted juror 11 to be discharged, and that a mistrial be declared, paving the way for a new trial. However, the judge refused, and ultimately Herring was convicted and sentenced to 32 years to life in prison.
On appeal, the Appellate Division, Second Department, denied Herring’s request to have a new trial finding that “under the circumstances of this case, the County Court did not improvidently exercise its discretion … after making an inquiry of that juror.”
On Tuesday, the Court of Appeals upheld the decision of the Second Department.
The case is People v. Herring, New York Court of Appeals, No. 165.