Popular Culture Review Vol. 28, No. 2, Summer 2017 - Page 28

This fact came to light during deliberations. Rather than subjecting the 6-year old victim to another trial, deputy prosecutor Andrew Alsdorf reduced the rape charges to three counts of incest, essentially reducing the defendant’s potential prison sentence from 15 years to 5 years. A jury poll revealed that 11 of the jurors would have voted to convict but for the mistrial. "The misconduct committed by one rogue juror who did not follow the court’s instructions in an effort to persuade his fellow jurors using methods specifically forbidden by the court, resulted in not only a mistrial but an injustice as well." 28 IV. CONSEQUENCES OF JUROR MISCONDUCT A. Declaration of a Mistrial and Ordering of a New Trial The most damning effect of juror misconduct via the Internet is the granting of a mistrial and ordering of a new trial. These judicial declarations are necessary, however, to cure the violation of the defendant’s right to a fair trial. They also represent an unfortunate circumstance - “The awarding of a new trial means that the costs, time and resources expended were all in vain.” 29 The slightest connection between a juror and a defendant, even without physical contact, can result in the granting of a new trial as illustrated by State v. Dellinger. 30 This case involved Juror Amber Hyre who it was later learned was a MySpace friend of the defendant whose trial she was hearing. This fact was discovered after a guilty verdict was rendered. Hyre remained silent when asked if she had a social relationship with the defendant during voir dire (the jury selection stage), even though she became MySpace friends with him prior to trial. The trial court denied Dellinger’s request for a new trial citing that Hyre’s contact with the appellant was minimal and she was fair and impartial. The West Virginia Supreme Court held however, that the trial court abused its discretion in failing to order a new trial because of Hyre’s misconduct. 31 B. Dismissal From Jury Service 28 Diana Hefley, Juror’s ‘Research’ Forced Mistrial in Child Rape Case, February 21, 2015, http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20121212/NEWS01/712129975. Last accessed April 7, 2017. 29 Janoski-Haehlen at 47. 30 State v. Dellinger, 225 W.Va. 736 (2010). 31 Id. 23