United States District Court, D. New Mexico
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
matter comes before the Court upon Defendant's Motion for
New Trial, filed December 18, 2018. (Doc. 96). Plaintiff
United States filed an amended response on January 23, 2019.
(Doc. 101). Having considered the Motion for New Trial and
the amended response, the Court denies the Motion for New
argues that the Court should grant him a new trial because
his Sixth Amendment right to an impartial jury was violated
by having a biased juror. Juror 12 (the jury foreman) sit on
the jury. Defendant seeks an evidentiary
hearing in connection with this Motion for New Trial.
Request for Evidentiary Hearing
confronted with a juror bias claim '"has wide
discretion in deciding how to proceed' and appropriately
denies a hearing when a party presents 'only thin
allegations of jury misconduct.'" United States
v. Brooks, 569 F.3d 1284, 1288 (10th Cir. 2009) (quoting
United States V. Easter, 981 F.2d 1549, 1553 (10th
Cir. 1992) (quotations omitted)). A court is not required to
hold a hearing "when it would not be 'useful or
necessary' in determining whether a defendant's
rights were violated." Id. (citation and
quotations omitted). For instance, a litigant "is not
entitled to a merely exploratory hearing." Kissell
v. Westinghouse Elec. Corp., Elevator Div., 367 F.2d
375, 376 (1st Cir. 1966).
described below, Defendant has presented "only thin
allegations of jury misconduct." Moreover, Defendant has
not specified how an evidentiary hearing would be useful or
necessary to the issues in his Motion for New Trial.
Defendant's request for an evidentiary hearing is more
like a request for an improper "exploratory
hearing." For these reasons, the Court denies
Defendant's request for an evidentiary hearing.
Request for New Trial
Rule of Criminal Procedure 33(a) provides that "the
court may vacate any judgment and grant a new trial if the
interest of justice so requires." "The defendant
bears the burden of proving that he is entitled to a new
trial under Rule 33...." United States v.
McCourty, 562 F.3d 458, 475 (2d Cir. 2009). Notably,
"[a] motion for a new trial is not viewed with favor and
should be granted with great caution." United States
v. Chatman, 994 F.2d 1510, 1518 (10th Cir. 1993).
The McDonough Test
argues, specifically, that Juror 12 "purposefully
concealed his true beliefs firom this Court" during the
voir dire examination. (Doc. 96) at 6. "[T]o
obtain a new trial in such a situation, a party must first
demonstrate that a juror failed to answer honestly a material
question on voir dire, and then further show that a
correct response would have provided a valid basis for a
challenge for cause." McDonough Power Equip., Inc.
v. Greenwood, 464 U.S. 548, 556 (1984), Having reviewed
the evidence presented by Defendant, (Doc. 96-1), as well as
the transcript of the voir dire examination, (Doc.
99), the Court finds that Defendant has not carried his
burden of demonstrating that Juror 12 "failed to answer
honestly a material question on voir dire." As
such, Defendant is not entitled to a new trial under the
Actual and Implied Bias
alternative to showing juror bias under the
McDonough test, a defendant has a "broader
historic right to prove actual or implied juror bias."
Skaggs v. Otis Elevator Co., 164 F.3d 511, 516 (10th
Cir. 1998). "Actual bias can be shown by the express
admission of the juror." Id. In other words,
"actual bias is 'based upon express proof, e.g., ...
admission by the prospective juror of a state of mind
prejudicial to a party's interest.'"
Id. at 517 (quoting United States V.
Haynes, 398 F.2d 980, 984 (2d Cir. 1968)). Here, neither
the evidence provided by Defendant nor the voir dire
examination transcript show that Juror 12 expressly admitted
that he could not fairly and impartially judge the case.
Defendant, thus, has failed to carry his burden of
demonstrating actual bias by Juror 12.
finding of implied bias 'is appropriate where the juror,
although she believes that she can be impartial, is so
closely connected to the circumstances at issue in the trial
that bias is presumed.'" United States v.
Powell, 226 F.3d 1181, 1188 (10th Cir. 2000) (citation
omitted). This is a high threshold and a finding of implied
bias '"must be reserved for those extreme and
exceptional circumstances that leave [a] serious
question whether the trial court subjected the defendant to
manifestly unjust procedures resulting in a miscarriage of
justice.'" Id. (citation omitted).
"The crux of the implied bias analysis in a case like
this one is found in an examination of the similarities
between the juror's experiences and the incident giving
rise to the trial." Gonzales v. Thomas, 99 F.3d
978, 989 (10th Cir. 1996).
the evidence presented by Defendant shows that Juror 12 has
opinions regarding sexual assault issues, as most people do.
Defendant has not shown that Juror I2's personal
experiences are so similar to the case at hand that bias can
be presumed. Defendant has simply not met the high threshold
for demonstrating implied bias on the part of Juror 12.
Defendant has not carried his burden of showing that
"the interest of justice" requires a new ...