Juries

Mistrial declared after juror misses a day of deliberations, ignores calls from court


A mistrial was declared in a murder trial Wednesday after the jury forewoman failed to show up for the previous day’s deliberations.

The juror, identified only by her first name and juror number, had called in “sick” Tuesday, the Albany Times-Union reports. She later said that her boyfriend had had an accident at the home of a friend.

The woman had ignored phone calls to three different numbers and visits to her home by county sheriff’s deputies. When she was finally brought to court on Wednesday, shortly after visiting Judge Richard Giardino declared a mistrial, she asked him why he hadn’t just replaced her with an alternate juror.

“What do you mean, mistrial?” she asked. “That means…that the trial is—they’re not deliberating any more?”

“They’re done,” Giardino replied, “and it’s because of your conduct.”

The judge, who told the woman she faces sanctions, said it was the first time in the more than 250 trials he’s been involved in that a juror didn’t show up in court when directed.

Defense lawyer Cheryl Coleman said she had “never seen anything like it.”

“It’s just a giant waste of three weeks of everyone’s life. It’s not good for anybody,” she said.

Assistant District Attorney Peter Willis, who tried the case, said the juror’s conduct “needs to be dealt with in an appropriate and serious way.”

The defendant, Emmanuel F. Martinez, is charged with the fatal shooting of Jose “Mikey” Torres, 24, and the wounding of his brother, Luis Gomez, 31, after a fight at a street party in Schenectady last Labor Day weekend.

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