State v. Bailey, 126 Haw. 383, 271 P.3d 1142 (2012) Juror Misconduct Opinion of the Court by RECKTENWALD, C.J.
Peter Kalani Bailey was convicted on four counts of attempted sexual assault in the first degree; victim was twelve years old at the time. The ICA affirmed. … during the jury's deliberations, Juror Nine informed the other jurors that Bailey had previously been charged with and/or convicted of murder…
Bailey argues that the circuit court abused its discretion in denying his motion for new trial, which was made in relation to Juror Nine's statements, because (1) the evidence against Bailey was not overwhelming; (2) the circuit court was not permitted to consider the juror's responses during voir dire regarding how they were affected by the statements; (3) “it was unavoidable” that the statements would “rouse the jury to overmastering hostility”; and (4) the circuit court's instruction to disregard the statements was insufficient to cure any prejudice….
We hold that the circuit court abused its discretion in denying Bailey's motion for mistrial, because Juror Nine's statements regarding Bailey's prior murder charge and/or conviction were not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. Accordingly, the circuit court's judgment of conviction and sentence must be vacated.
This court has articulated [in Furutani] the following "conceptual framework" for analyzing a claim that juror misconduct prejudiced a defendant's right to a fair trial19:
We conclude the State did not meet its burden of proving harmlessness. See Furutani,
In the instant case, although there was substantial evidence to support Bailey's conviction, there were also inconsistencies in [some of the testimony and with some of the physical evidence].
Accordingly, the evidence was not strong enough to overcome the substantial prejudice created by Juror Nine's statements, even though the circuit court advised the remaining jurors to disregard Juror Nine's statements in resuming their deliberations. …
Based on the foregoing, we vacate the judgment of the ICA and the circuit court's judgment of conviction and sentence, and remand to the circuit court for a new trial.