Thursday, July 17, 2014

No Habeas Relief Even Though Juror was Married to Prosecution's Expert

Benjamin v. Meyer, 2014 WL 2724636 (6/17/14) (Wyo.) (unpub'd) - No habeas relief in the following odd situation. A prospective juror who became an actual juror assured the trial court she could be impartial even though her husband was an expert for the prosecution. She noted she was an independent thinker and, [unlike most spouses], often disagreed with her husband. Defense counsel explained to the court he didn't seek her excusal because he "kind of liked her." During the trial, however, although the husband never testified, he did rush up to the prosecution table during cross of the defense expert, giving the impression he disagreed with that expert. The court denied the defense's request to remove the juror at that point. The 10th found no clearly established law that the juror was implicitly biased, nor that the trial court had a sua sponte duty to hold a hearing on the juror's actual bias. Ms. Benjamin failed to rebut the state court's finding that circumstances had not changed since voir dire such that the juror's impartiality would be affected.