SAN FRANCISCO — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals today overturned a verdict in a beating case, finding a judge’s probe of a deadlocked jury and subsequent order of additional closing arguments to be an abuse of discretion.
The unanimous panel, noting that it was deciding a case of first impression for the circuit, said U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow of Arizona interfered with the jury’s role as sole fact-finder in a domestic-violence assault case out of Western Arizona. After the jury twice declared it was hopelessly deadlocked, the judge, over defense objections, asked jurors to reveal what had them deadlocked. The jury indicated it had issues with witness credibility and how the victim’s injuries were sustained.
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