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Judge Declares Mistrial In Jewu Cop-Assault Case
by Paul Bass and Thomas MacMillan | Apr 12, 2013 12:01 pm
Posted to: Legal Writes
It was a scene out of 12 Angry Men: A single holdout kept a jury from reaching a unanimous guilty verdict. Then minds started changing.
The scene took place not on film but in a real-live jury room in the state Superior Court building on Church Street.
And it was four men and two women—not 12 men—trying to decide the case.
A judge directed them to decide whether 33-year-old Jewu Richardson was guilty of 10 charges in connection with a Jan. 16, 2010 car chase, including charges of assaulting a police officer.
In the end, the intense, emotional jury deliberations—a capstone to an intense, emotional two-week trial that filled the courtroom with cops and critics of police misconduct—led Judge Raheem L. Mullins to declare a mistrial Friday afternoon.
Police officers and court workers who had watched the trial from one side of the courtroom filed out glumly. To people on that side of the courtroom, a felon was getting away with running from the cops and trying to run one of them over.
Richardson and his supporters—who had filled the other side of the courtroom during the trial—erupted in cheers and hugs outside the courtroom. To these observers, police would have gotten away with unjustly shooting an unarmed man if the jury had found Jewu Richardson guilty.
One of the hugs was between Richardson and activist Emma Jones (pictured), whose son Malik Jones was shot dead by an East Haven police officer at the end of a chase that occurred six years ago this Sunday.
“This one right here is for Malik Jones!” Richardson remarked as supporters chanted, “Justice for Jewu!”
Then came group hugs with the supporters and two of the departing jurors, including the original holdout juror.
That holdout juror, DJ and Yale employee James Chapman Jr., was persuaded by Richardson’s attorney, Diane Polan, that the conduct of police should be on trial, too, in the case. Polan put on evidence during the trial that a police supervisor three separate times called off the police chase only to be disobeyed. At the chase’s conclusion an officer ended up on the hood of Richardson’s Acura and shot Richardson in the chest. (Richardson survived and filed a civil suit against the city; click here for an in-depth account of the incident.)
Wednesday afternoon, then all Thursday, the six jurors considered the charges. Even Polan had said in her final statement to the jury that Richardson was guilty of at least some of the minor charges against him. Yet Chapman argued that because of the police’s behavior, he couldn’t vote for any guilty verdicts.
Stuck, the jury sent the judge two notes on Thursday.
“We are unlikely to reach a verdict. A single juror votes the same verdict on every count. We are unable to deliberate the individual elements of each charge. Too much emotion. We reached tentative consensus yesterday on 3 of 10 counts, only to learn today that this juror reversed to their original verdict. This note was read aloud and agreed to by all jurors,” read a note sent at 11:30 a.m.
Keep trying, the judge said.
Another note came at around 4 p.m.
“One juror is having difficulty putting aside his or her worldview to focus” on the case, the note read. The juror “acknowledges that his or her past experiences are interfering” with his or her ability to come to a decision, the note read. The juror recognizes that he or she “may not be capable of the neutral objectivity that is needed.”
Judge Mullins told the jury to go home, “meditate,” and come back in the morning.
A 2nd Holdout Emerges
They did. Juror Tammy Morris Jones, a mental-health worker from Waterbury, went home and meditated about what Chapman kept saying in the jury room. She meditated in particular about Polan’s exchanges with the police sergeant who had called off the chases and issued a scathing memo. Jones decided she, too, couldn’t convict Richardson of any charges. She thought about how the sergeant, Doug Harkins, had criticized the officers for “recklessness” and a “complete lack of discipline.” “This incident yielded nothing but risk of injury to persons and property with the recovery of no contraband,” Harkins wrote.
The prosecutor, Jack Doyle, had repeatedly sought to convince the jury that police actions were not on trial. Richardson, and Richardson alone, was responsible for what happened on the evening of Jan. 10, 2010, because he decided to flee from police while driving drunk in an unregistered car with another car’s license plates.
By Thursday night that argument was losing influence on Tammy Jones.
“I didn’t feel comfortable with the charges,” Jones concluded. “I went home and I just thought about everything. I just wanted to be fair.”
Come Friday morning, at least two jurors were now reluctant to vote guilty on any charges.
A Final Try
Before the jurors resumed deliberating Friday morning, attorneys on both sides urged Judge Mullins to take actions based on Thursday’s notes. Neither side knew a second holdout had emerged.
Prosecutor Doyle asked the judge to interview the known holdout juror to see if she or he should be removed from the jury. A juror needs to be “neutral” and “objective,” Doyle argued.
Defense attorney Polan argued that that such an inquiry would interfere with and “invade” the sanctity of the jury process. She noted that both sides got to grill potential jurors in open court before the trial began to make sure they’d be fair arbiters. Once evidence is presented in a trial, Polan argued, jurors need not to remain “neutral.”
“They’re supposed to develop opinions” on the case, she argued.
Polan moved instead to have the judge declare a mistrial.
After hearing their arguments, Judge Mullins stated that Doyle made a “reasonable” request for an inquiry, but that it was too soon.
Instead, he brought in the jury and instructed it to try again. He issued what’s called a “Chip Smith” directive: He asked the known holdout juror not to “acquiesce” to the majority, but, “in order to bring your minds to a unanimous result,” to show “due regard and deference” the the majority.
“Listen with an open mind to each other’s opinions,” Mullins said. Keep in mind, he said, that other jurors are “equally intelligent” even if they have reached a different conclusion.
He added this directive: “Do not ever change your mind because other jurors see things differently or to get the case over with.”
Mullins then dispatched the jury to get back to work.
“There’s no need to hurry,” he said.
The nuances in Mullins’ directive can be traced to the history of the so-called “Chip Smith” charge to juries deadlocked with a holdout or two. Over the years, some lawyers have called the directive “coercive” to the minority. (Attorney Polan made that argument again in court Friday morning.) As a result, the courts have directed judges to add the kind of proviso Mullins added Friday.
“They Broke The Law”
It didn’t take long for the jury to realize it was getting further from, not closer, to a resolution. At 12:10 p.m., out came another note, written, as were the others, by the foreman, who’s a physician.
“We are not making progress,” the note read. “We have less consensus today than yesterday. One fundamental issue dominates EVERY discussion of every element of every charge. The guilt or innocence of the police. Not all jurors can exclude this topic from any element of any charge.
“Juror quote: ‘They broke the law. How can you convict anyone of anything in such a case?’
“6 of 6 jurors believe we cannot reach a unanimous verdict. On that we are unanimous.”
Judge Mullins brought out the jury. He asked the foreman if the jury might be able to decide on at least some of the 10 charges. The foreman said it was possible. Back the jury went to try.
In less than an hour came the final word: No dice.
Minutes before 1 p.m., Judge Mullins declared a mistrial. He dismissed the jurors. He also went into a side room to share some final private words with them.
The state can move for a new trial. Prosecutor Jack Doyle declined to comment on whether the state will pursue that option.
“I don’t think the state’s case is going to get any better,” said Richardson’s attorney, Diane Polan.
“We were very successful at putting the police on trial in this case,” she said. “At least some jurors saw that as the main issue in the case.”
Post a Comment
The judge that picked that person did not do a good job that he paid to do. When I’m called to jury duty and say I don’t like cops I go home…....
Does police misconduct during a chase mean that the defendant didn’t commit a crime by starting the chase; fleeing at high speed and putting many people in danger?
Retry the criminal case and let the possible police misconduct shake out in a civil case (which is coming in any event).
@ jim1: I have seen no indication that the “holdout” juror said anything like “I don’t like cops” during jury selection, and therefore no indication that Judge Mullins failed to do his job correctly.
If that juror’s statements in the jury deliberation room indicated distrust of the police, that is no fault of the judge’s.
jimjoebob if you will just read it again I did not say that the holdout did not like cops.
And yes when I am called for jury duty it is the fault of the judge and the 2 lawyers, when I say that I don’t like cops..they send me home. It is a hard job to be on a jury, like this case. Sometimes there is not a right choice.
Well, robn, in New Haven it does. Most places I’ve been, no.
Think of the tens of thousands of dollars spent on this, all for the chance of a “do over,” just because a State’s Attorney did not do a good job of voir dire, or a jury member did not take their oath seriously. Your tax dollars at work.
Obviously the voir dire process was lacking competence from both sides or a potential juror with biases was lying through out the process to get some one off the hook because their personal perceptions and inability to participate in an unbiased environment. Either way you look at it will cost us tax payers more money. The juror who had obviously biases should have never of been chosen to sit on this jury. I think that juror should be investigated as far as what questions they answered during the voir dire process because if they had biases they didn’t disclose they just cost the city of New Haven a ton of money. There should be a crime for that. In other thoughts, you now have a criminal back on the streets who thinks he can run from the cops without consequences. You have a supervisor who might have been trying to cover his own A** (which I don’t blame him because they are micro-managed and publically criticized constantly.) A bad case all around. Now lets see how much this costs us. A Sergeant his job will get crap from his department, a criminal thinks he gets away from breaking many laws. Who really won? No one. Guess who lost? Tax payers. AGAIN!!!
Born and Raised:
Your comment to the effect that the voir dire process was flawed, I feel, missed the main lesson to be learned from this trial. That lesson, as Attorney Diane Polin so well expressed in a post-trial press conference was that Race Matters.
The fact that the 4 suburban white jurors apparently wanted to convict on many if not all of the 10 charges; and the the 2 urban black jurors ultimately were not willing to convict on any of the charges, underlies the deep racial divide, and, in particular, the very different life experience in their interaction with law enforcement.
to be continued….
As someone who followed this trial from the beginning, who heard much of the evidence presented with both the direct and cross examination of the witnesses, who heard both sides in their summations, and who was there every day of the deliberations; I feel that there were obvious holes in the prosecutions case. The two most important being:
1. Why did the officers involved continued the chase when they were ordered 3 times to cease? For public safety reasons, the policy of the New Haven Police Dept is that high speed chases can be undertaken if, and only if, a felony crime has been committed. There was no such crime. The officers were endangering the public against the orders of their superior and against the policy of the New Haven police department.
2. How did the 25 year old rookie cop, just out of the police academy, who shot the defendant in the chest (miraculously NOT killing him) end up on top of the hood of the defendant’s car?
The police/prosecution version was that he was struck by the moving vehicle and projected up, landing on the hood instead of forward, landing on the ground. Several eyewitnesses said that the car was not moving, having just been hit and disabled and boxed-in by another officer’s car; and the the officer jumped up on the hood on his own volition, prior to his use of deadly force.
Expert witness for the defence testified that if the police narrative was correct—that the officer was struck by a moving vehicle and projected up,—that this could have been verified by an examination of the car. An examination of the dent pattern on the hood and of the material transfer between the officer’s clothes and the car’s surface could have told just how the officer ended up on the hood.
But this examination can never be done. Why? Because hours after the incident, with the defendant in the hospital fighting for his life, the police demolished the car. They destroying the evidence.
What did they have to hide?
All this focus on the voire dire… Voire dire is in so many places, a process used to weed out the ‘peers’ in your ‘jury of your peers’. If a Black male from New Haven is on trial and the jury pool is all white people from the suburbs, whose interaction with Black communities & individuals is limited at best and their perception and stereotypes based on media portrayals, a fair trial is extremely unlikely.
Many people who are white and from suburban towns in New Haven county are property owners or even business owners. Many have had mostly positive experience with police regardless of their adherence to the law. Police don’t murder their children; or are at least very unlikely to. in 2012, 313 Black people died in police custody, averaging one death by police every 28 hours. So if you aren’t around that you don’t know it exists and cannot properly assess someones credibility concerning those matters.
Why would we not ask white members of the jury why they trusted the testimony of police? Were they biased in favor of police if they trusted their testimony? Couldn’t that be part of their own bias? Being raised to trust the police, whether or not you’re following the law? When police look like you, are family members.
Clearly some people don’t like the fact that, when judged by people presumably more familiar with how the police behave in New Havens communities of color, those individuals are able to size up a situation the best. Some people, despite their irrelevance to these issues, who have no concept of what it’s like to be Black, have a lot to say about it but nothing to back it up.
And as far as lawsuits go, if DeStefano hadnt blocked the implimentation of an independent civilian review board which the community could actually trust, perhaps long trials and expensive lawsuits wouldn’t have to be part of a persons response to their rights being violated. Please stop blaming taxes on the victims of oppression. I can see right through that argument.
“If Woody had only [stopped] for the police, this would never have happened!”
Where is the accountability. Only criminals speed away when police attempt to pull them over. If this criminal would have stopped, none of this would have happened. The police committed no crime here, except being overly zealous in DOING THEIR JOB. This is what is wrong with our society. We promote that is ok not to stop for the police because of the “racial divide.”
I was born in the projects and lived in the ‘hood’... my parents taught me to respect my elders (This includes police), even when they are wrong. I have seen with my own eyes when black parents tell their young children not to like cops, and even turned them away when cops tried to say hello to them on their walking beats. These are the same parents condoning this criminal behavior.
Stop portraying all blacks as anti-police. Many of us are law-abiding citizens that support the police, and teach our children right from wrong. The best way to stop the racial divide is for us to take accountability and to be more responsible with OUR behavior. Parents of our black children, stop telling your kids it is ok not to respect the police (EMMA). Instead, teach them proper values. That’s how we bridge the divide, and that’s how our children won’t get shot.
posted by: TiredOfIdiots on April 14, 2013 9:48am
Many of us are law-abiding citizens that support the police, and teach our children right from wrong. The best way to stop the racial divide is for us to take accountability and to be more responsible with OUR behavior. Parents of our black children, stop telling your kids it is ok not to respect the police (EMMA). Instead, teach them proper values. That’s how we bridge the divide, and that’s how our children won’t get shot.
This is what happen to law-abiding citizens of color.
New York City Cop Testifies That He Was Told To Target Young Black Men.
NYPD report: Most of those ‘stopped and frisked’ are minorities.
You want to bet this is happening in this state.
NYPD KICKS DOOR BEFORE SHOOTING UNARMED BRONX TEEN
posted by: Jones Gore on April 14, 2013 2:47pm
Yes he was wrong by fleeing the police. He even put his passenger in danger who was injured in the chase. He should be charge for fleeing.
The cops on the other hand put themselves in danger and the public by continuing the chase when they were ordered to stop. If they had obey the order the cop would no have ended up on the hood of the car. The cops at that point were not in the right and in fact as a result of disobeying a direct order might have violated this man’s rights when they shot him. The cops did not have a right to pursue him when they were ordered to stop pursuing him. Therefore the cop did not have a right to jump on his hood and shoot him.
It seems to me that both were wrong. And that is what makes a case like this difficult.
No one is denying there are racists cops or that cops at times act with reckless abandon; however, that does not justify citizens breaking the law. We have to do our part. If they step out of line, take appropriate action to hold them accountable. We can’t continue to justify breaking the law by using the race card…it dilutes the message. Just go hug a cop. Lol!
So, two wrongs make a right after all.
Clearly, their are Officers who ought to be disciplined, yet Mr. Richardson engaged in criminal acts prior to this misconduct. Cause must always precede or be concurrent with effect. A street nully is outside the Rule of Law.
But there is a tremendous difference in the crimes allegedly committed. Mr. Richardson did not take a loaded gun and fire it point blank into another person’s chest.
Allan Brison, gun, car, both are deadly weapons. Police misconduct ought not be a blank cheque for citizen misconduct—prior to that police misconduct.
While the round that struck Mr. Richardson was fired at point blank range, we ought to be clear what that term means when properly used, rather than just for effect. Point blank is the range that a round discharged from a firearm will remain in the kill zone without adjusting the sights for elevation. Thus, an M-16 has a point blank range of 300 meters, with the bullet passing the line of sight at 25 and 250 meters. The point blank range of a handgun is typically 50 meters or more.