The Third Department refused to consider whether County Court properly handled an “outburst by a juror during deliberations” because the issue was not preserved by objection. The dissenting justice would have considered the issue in the interest of justice and ordered a new trial:
From the dissent:
The foreperson said it best — “how did you get this far if that’s the case? . . . you shouldn’t be here.” The foreperson said this to one of the jurors, who was in seat No. 6, after this juror revealed during deliberations that she was a victim of rape — one of the crimes for which defendant was being tried. Juror No. 6 had not disclosed this fact during voir dire or on the juror questionnaire. In any event, County Court proceeded to question each juror, including juror No. 6, to determine if any of them was grossly unqualified. Such inquiry, however, was not “probing and tactful” … and, consequently, the court failed to ensure that the finding of guilt was the product of a fair and impartial jury. * * *
In my view, County Court’s inquiry did not meet the probing and tactful standard. Based on the allegations of rape made against defendant, juror No. 6’s revelation of being a rape victim and the doubt expressed by the foreperson about juror No. 6’s impartiality, it was incumbent upon the court, at the very least, to ask juror No. 6 about being a rape victim. Indeed, the court intended on asking juror No. 6 about being a sexual assault victim but, for some reason that is not apparent in the record, it never did. Merely asking whether juror No. 6 was a crime victim did not address the emotionally charged situation that the foreperson brought to the court’s attention. The court’s inquiry was therefore flawed from the outset. People v Rivera, 2022 NY Slip Op 04050, Third Dept 6-23-22
Practice Point: Because the issue was not preserved for appeal by objection, the majority refused to consider whether County Court made a proper inquiry when a juror revealed during deliberations, for the first time, she was a rape victim. Defendant was charged with rape. The dissenting justice would have considered the issue in the interest of justice and ordered a new trial.