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After four days of deliberating in a perjury trial in March 2002, the lone juror holding out against conviction was brought before San Francisco Superior Court Judge Perker Meeks Jr. He was crying. “I am being cruel and unusual punishment,” the man identified only as Juror 2 told Meeks in fractured sentences. “I had enough, you know, how much pain you want to inflict upon me.” Meeks told the man he intended to cause him no pain, and excused him from the trial on the basis that he was no longer deliberating. A day later, with an alternate juror in place, Vilma Peraza-Williams was convicted on two counts of perjury and sentenced to five years’ probation and six months in jail. On Aug. 11, San Francisco’s 1st District Court of Appeal reversed the judgment, saying that Meeks had abused his discretion by releasing Juror 2. “The fact that Juror 2 reached a conclusion different from that of the other jurors did not render him unable to deliberate,” Justice Ignazio Ruvolo wrote. “Rather than being faced with a juror unable or unwilling to perform his duties, the court was faced with a jury that was deadlocked after lengthy deliberations.” Justices J. Anthony Kline and James Lambden concurred. In releasing Juror 2, Meeks had also found that the man was suffering from “real personal stress” because of his fellow jurors’ pressure to make him change his vote. But even the foreperson said Juror 2 wasn’t being unreasonable and was “a very articulate guy.” No matter, Juror 2′s stress level was palpable, as he pleaded with Meeks, “I would like to be released. I would like to be released. I had enough.” On appeal, Peraza-Williams argued that the release of Juror 2 violated her Sixth Amendment right to a full and fair trial. The Aug. 11 ruling entitles her to a new trial. The unpublished ruling is People v. Peraza-Williams, A098922.

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