The Statesman Journal quoted Laura Appleman, professor of criminal law, in a Tuesday story on potential juror misconduct.
Seven years have passed since the well-known trial of Bruce and Joshua Turnidge, a father and son convicted of a 2008 fatal bombing that left two police officers dead and injured another. A juror from that trial, Tasha Hobbs, sent a letter to Marion County Judge Courtland Geyer in early September. In the letter, she said she was taking prescription pain medication during the trial and couldn’t stay awake. She thinks she might have biased the jury to convict the men.
“I can honestly say I don’t believe I would have made the same decisions at all,” Hobbs wrote in the letter. “It’s eating at me that 2 men may have spent the last 10 years in prison because of my actions.”
Appleman said it’s unusual for jurors to come forward in this way following a trial. She said she didn’t think the letter, with its preliminary information, would result in much action.
“Courts are very reluctant to overturn a jury verdict unless there’s evidence of severe misconduct,” she said.
It’s important, Appleman said, to keep verdicts stable in a justice system where trials by jury are key. The Oregon Supreme Court upheld the Turnidge’s death sentences in 2016.
The post-conviction attorney for the two men said in his 40 years as a criminal defense attorney, potential juror misconduct has rarely resulted in major case changes. He and the others involved in the case will wait and see what this allegation amounts to.
Read the full Statesman Journal story.
About Willamette University College of Law
Opened in 1883, Willamette University College of Law is the first law school in the Pacific Northwest. The college has a long tradition at the forefront of legal education and is committed to the advancement of knowledge through excellent teaching, scholarship and mentorship. Leading faculty, thriving externship and clinical law programs, ample practical skills courses and a proactive career placement office prepare Willamette law students for today's legal job market. According to statistics compiled by the American Bar Association, Willamette ranks first in the Pacific Northwest for job placement for full-time, long-term, JD-preferred/JD-required jobs for the class of 2014 and first in Oregon for the classes of 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015. Located across the street from the state capitol complex and the Oregon Supreme Court, the college specializes in law and government, law and business, and dispute resolution.