Brewster v. Hetzel

An Alabama jury deadlocks, sends six notes over two days regarding their inability to reach a verdict; the judge’s responses include such gems as “justice is after all, but an approximate science.” Upon learning that the lone holdout juror is doing crossword puzzles, the judge orders all reading materials removed. Eighteen minutes later, the jury returns a guilty verdict (and the defendant gets life without parole for armed robbery). Habeas granted, says the Eleventh Circuit. This verdict was coerced, and the defendant received ineffective assistance of counsel. (For an added bonus, the court discusses several 17th-century English methods to ensure unanimous jury verdicts.)

Tags: 2019, Eleventh Circuit, Habeas Corpus, Professional Responsibility, Right to Counsel

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