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San Francisco DUI Lawyer - Barry Bonds Trial – A Compromised Verdict?

Posted on in DUI

Here in Part 3 in my series of related posts, I will continue my discussion about the Barry Bonds trial and how it relates to DUI or Drunk Driving Defense cases. As a San Francisco DUI attorney, there are a number of similarities I have seen between this case and those that I am involved in.

When a jury convicts a defendant as part of an agreement to simply end their own division over various charges, and that verdict is inconsistent with its verdict or deadlock on other counts, it’s a violation of their duty as jurors and a denial of due process. The defense will contend that the jury’s failure to unanimously conclude that Bonds had committed perjury before the Grand Jury is inconsistent with their finding him guilty on the obstruction of justice count (the jury deadlocked on the three perjury counts, with one perjury count being 11-1 for guilty).

Bonds was found guilty of having violated Title 18, section 1503, of the United States Code, which prohibits one from intentionally giving false, evasive, or misleading testimony to a federal grand jury. The prosecution will contend that there is nothing inconsistent with the jury having found Bonds that he was intentionally evasive in his testimony, even though there may have been a reasonable doubt as to whether he perjured himself.

The issue presented arises from time to time in drunk driving cases. Let’s say the defense in a DUI case is that the defendant was not driving (e.g., he was founding sitting behind the wheel of his car but nobody saw the car move). Yet the jury returns a verdict of guilty on California Vehicle Code section 23152(a)(driving under the influence), but either acquits or fails to reach a unanimous verdict on California Vehicle Code section 23152(b) (driving with a.08 percent or higher alcohol concentration). The defense in this circumstance would contend that the verdict is inconsistent - to find the defendant guilty on either count requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt that he was driving. A split verdict in this circumstance appears to be a compromised verdict.

The defense should be alert to the possibility of a compromised verdict. The defense lawyer should remind jurors that compromised verdicts are improper. When a split verdict occurs, the defense should (in most circumstances) immediately object to the jury being discharged and ask the Court to inquire if the verdict reached was made as part of a compromise. The exception is where you want no further deliberations on the hung counts, but that is rarely the situation in a DUI trial. Once the jury is discharged it becomes much more difficult to successfully contend that the verdict was a compromised verdict.

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