Friday, March 16, 2007

Unanimity win

Bach T. Hang, M. Kristine Savage and Christopher M. Joseph, of Joseph & Hollander, won in State v. Buckner, No. 94,795 (Kan. App. March 16, 2007), reversing a Washington County attempted manufacture case. The COA agreed that failure to give a unanimity instruction was clear error:
We do not view Buckner's defense strategy as a "general denial" as characterized by the State, but rather as separate defenses to each occasion when he allegedly participated in the manufacture of methamphetamine. Depending on how each juror viewed the testimony of each witness, it was possible for there to be disagreement as to on which of the specified dates Buckner was involved in manufacturing activity. For example, if one or more but less than all jurors believed Kathy Rose as to July 11, they may have been inclined to find Buckner not guilty on that occasion but guilty on another occasion; whereas one or more but less than all jurors may have believed all other witnesses, but doubted the credibility of Kathy Rose, thus being inclined to find Buckner guilty of the charges on July 11 but not guilty on the other occasions. If this or a similar scenario occurred, Buckner was convicted by less than a unanimous jury and this is precisely the problem that the unanimity instruction is designed to prevent. We conclude that this was a classic multiple acts case and that the separate defenses to each of the acts required that the unanimity instruction be given in order to assure a unanimous jury.

I haven't seen a unanimity case for a while. It was a big issue a few years back, but has sort of been on the back burners.

[Update: the state did not file a PR and the mandate issued on April 19, 2007]

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