Provides that jury deliberations may be suspended upon good cause shown for up to seventy two hours.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the criminal procedure law, in relation to suspending jury deliberations
This is one in a series of measures being introduced at the request of the Chief Administrative Judge upon the recommendation of her Advisory Committee on Criminal Law and Procedure.
This measure would amend the Criminal Procedure Law to allow a trial court to suspend jury deliberations for up to forty-eight hours (excluding weekends and holidays) in appropriate cases.
In 1995, the Legislature gave trial courts discretion to forego sequestration in most cases (L. 1995, c. 83). Over the next several years, the Legislature required the Chief Administrative Judge and the Office of Court Administration to conduct an annual study of the change and file a report with the Governor, the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the Assembly. The reports found that there were significant cost-savings to the change and that eliminating sequestration did not result in an increase in jury tampering or an increase the number of mistrials. After five years, the Legislature made permanent the changes and expanded the reach of the statute to permit trial courts to forego sequestration in all cases (L. 2001, c. 47).
A trial court's discretion is not unfettered, however, and the current statute provides that a court may only suspend jury deliberations "for a reasonable period of time ... not to exceed twenty-four hours" (CPL 310.10(2). Undoubtedly, the twenty-four hour limit is intended to permit deliberating jurors to go home each night and return on the next day when the court is in session. Unfortunately, circumstances often arise that make it impossible to reconvene the jury within twenty-four hours, as was illustrated in a recent case arising in Kings County (see People v Taylor, 32 Mise 3d 546 (Sup Ct, Kings County 2011, Del Giudice, J.)). In Taylor, a deliberating juror was briefly hospitalized and unable to return to Court to resume further deliberations the following day. The defense immediately moved for a mistrial, claiming that the express language of CPL 310.10(2) prevented the court from adjourning deliberations more than 24 hours, even though the juror would be available one day later. There were no indications of juror tampering nor did it appear that jury deliberations would be impeded by the additional delay caused by the juror's hospitalization. The case highlights the inflexibility of the statute, and the court urged legislative action to amend the statute.
We believe that the arbitrary limit of twenty-four hours should be relaxed in appropriate cases. While our Advisory Committee considered
recommending elimination of the twenty-four hour restriction altogether and allowing courts discretion to suspend deliberations "for a reasonable period of time," it ultimately favored an approach that provides courts with more, but not unfettered, discretion. Thus, this measure retains the twenty-four hour limit in most cases, but provides, "upon good cause shown, an additional period not to exceed 72 hours." By requiring "good cause" for any suspension longer than twenty-four hours, the measure insures that lengthy suspensions of jury deliberations will not become routine.
This measure, which would have no meaningful fiscal impact on the State, would take effect immediately, and shall apply to all criminal actions pending on or after such effective date.
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: New proposal.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 6679 IN SENATE March 8, 2012 ___________Introduced by Sen. SALAND -- (at request of the Office of Court Adminis- tration) -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Codes AN ACT to amend the criminal procedure law, in relation to suspending jury deliberations THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Subdivision 2 of section 310.10 of the criminal procedure law, as amended by chapter 47 of the laws of 2001, is amended to read as follows: 2. At any time after the jury has been charged or commenced its delib- erations, and after notice to the parties and affording such parties an opportunity to be heard on the record outside of the presence of the jury, the court may declare the deliberations to be in recess and may thereupon direct the jury to suspend its deliberations and to separate for a reasonable period of time to be specified by the court, not to exceed twenty-four hours OR, UPON GOOD CAUSE SHOWN, NOT TO EXCEED SEVEN- TY-TWO HOURS, except that in the case of a Saturday, Sunday or holiday, such separation may extend beyond such twenty-four OR SEVENTY-TWO hour period. Before each recess, the court must admonish the jury as provided in section 270.40 of this chapter and direct it not to resume its delib- erations until all twelve jurors have reassembled in the designated place at the termination of the declared recess. S 2. This act shall take effect immediately, and shall apply to all criminal actions pending on or after such effective date.EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD14172-01-2