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Criminal Jury Instructions

Criminal Jury Instructions Home

2.10-5 When Alternate Juror Empaneled after Deliberations have Begun

New, May 10, 2012

As you know, juror # ___ was excused from the jury.  It was a decision of the court to excuse (him/her), and an alternate juror has been selected to take (his/her) place.  Please do not speculate on the reason why that juror was excused.1

As of this moment, you are a new jury, and you must start your deliberations over again.  The parties have the right to a verdict reached by (six / twelve) jurors who have had the full opportunity to deliberate from start to finish.  The alternate juror has no knowledge of any earlier deliberations.  Consequently, the new deliberating jury must start over at the very beginning of deliberations.  Each member of the original deliberating jury must set aside and disregard whatever may have occurred and anything which may have been said in the jury room following my instructions to you.  You must give no weight to any opinion expressed by juror # __ during deliberations before (he/she) was excused. Together, as a new jury, you must consider all evidence presented at trial as part of your full and complete deliberations until you reach your verdict.



1 If the reason for the juror’s dismissal is neutral, it is usually best to explain it to the remaining jurors.

Commentary

When a juror must be dismissed after deliberations have begun, the court has two options:

Practice Book § 42-3 provides that the parties may stipulate, in writing and with the court’s approval, to have the verdict rendered by a number of jurors fewer than that prescribed by law. The defendant must be advised as to his or her right to a trial by a full jury and personally waive that right in writing or in open court on the record.

An alternate juror may be made a member of the panel. General Statutes § 54-82h (c) requires that the jury be instructed to begin deliberations anew. Before this, however, the court must first assess the jury’s realistic ability to do so, considering the length and nature of the deliberations at the time the juror was excused and the amount, if any, of re-instruction or testimony playback that has occurred. The court should canvass the jurors as to whether they will be able to recommence deliberations and disregard anything that had been said or any conclusions they might have drawn based on their discussions. See State v. Williams, 231 Conn. 235, 240-45 (1994). The above instruction should then be given to the reconstituted jury.

Note that prior to October 1, 2000, General Statutes § 54-82h (c) required that alternates be dismissed when the case was given to the jury. See State v. Murray, 254 Conn. 472, 493-94 (2000). It is now optional. The court should ensure that the alternate has not been exposed to any prejudicial information since his or her dismissal. See State v. Williams, supra, 231 Conn. 240.

 

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