Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Friday, August 22, 2014

Therve: No abuse of discretion in granting mistrial after hung jury

In U.S. v. Therve, No. 13-11879 (Aug. 20, 2014), the Court affirmed a bribery conviction, rejecting the argument that the district court abused its discretion in denying a mistrial at the conclusion of a first trial after the jury was unable to agree on a unanimous verdict, with all but one juror in favor of finding Therve not guilty. The Court found that the following circumstances supported the judge’s decision to declare a mistrial: (1) the jury had deliberated to deadlock in two separate periods of deliberation, including one after receiving an Allen charge; (2) despite the two periods of deliberation, the jury said that had it had been split in the same way since the very beginning; (3) the judge believed the jury to be truthful in its assessment that it was hung; (4) the trial was short and straight-forward; and (5) the judge suggested that he thought that making the jury continue to deliberate after the second note following the Allen charge was coercive. The Court noted that it did not agree with the judge’s decision to reveal to the parties the jury’s numerical split (a split the jury revealed despite a specific instruction not to do so), but held that this did not render improper an otherwise sound decision to declare a mistrial.