No Retrial in Jury Misconduct Claim

A former AU Optronics executive convicted in a price-fixing conspiracy cannot get a new trial even though some jurors may have made up their minds about his guilt prior to deliberations.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the conviction of Shui Lung ‘Steve’ Leung Thursday finding precedents dating back to the 1700s prevent litigants from overturning verdicts based on real or perceived flaws by juries deciding their cases.

“In keeping with these precedents, we hold that Shiu Lung Leung was not entitled to a new trial or evidentiary hearing based on a juror’s affidavit alleging that other jurors discussed the evidence against him and made up their minds about his guilt before the start of deliberations.”

Leung was one of seven corporate defendants to face trial on charges of fixing prices on Liquid Crystal Display panels used in computers, TVs and laptops.  Jurors convicted four and acquitted two and hung on Leung’s case.  During a retrial, a new jury convicted Leung.

Prior to his sentencing, Leung sought an evidentiary hearing based on the statement of one juror that at least three other jurors had discussed evidence and made up their minds that Leung was guilty prior to deliberations.

U.S. District Judge Susan Illston refused.  She sentenced Leung to two years in prison in 2013.

“We emphasize that rules governing juror conduct during trials exist for good reason,” wrote Judge, Margaret McKeown.  If jurors engage in misconduct or if they discuss evidence prior to deliberations, the trial court has broad discretion to correct the violation.

But post-trial, a juror affidavit “is too little, too late,” she said.

The rules have their root in an 18th century English case in which Lord Mansfield found inadmissible the affidavits of two jurors who claimed they decide the case through a “game of chance.”

Case:  U.S. v. Leung,  No. 13-10242

 

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