Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Godwin: No error in dismissal of jurors

In U.S. v. Godwin, No. 13-10184 (Sept. 3, 2014), the Court affirmed convictions for RICO racketeering and RICO conspiracy, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1962(c) & (d). The Court rejected the argument that the district court, before the trial commenced, erroneously dismissed a juror who had been selected to serve on the jury. The Court noted that the juror was visibly distraught about having to serve on a four and half-week trial away from her 14-month old son. The Court also rejected the argument that the district court, during jury deliberations, erroneously dismissed a juror who, according to all other jurors, was refusing to follow the judge’s instructions. The Court noted that this was a proper ground for dismissal, so long as there was no substantial possibility, as here, that the juror was basing her decision on the sufficiency of the evidence. The Court also rejected one defendant’s challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence, pointing out that his sale of a diamond stolen during a home invasion was “money laundering,” because it was designed to promote the ultimate objective of the conspiracy – to turn jewelry into cash. Although the defendant “was not a bona fide, dog-tag wearing member of the organization,” he helped the gang commit various crimes.