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Friday Roundup

Hobson's choice.  Cleveland Cargile was busted on a robbery charge back in 2007.  Just before taking him into the jail, the cops told him that carrying drugs into the jail is a crime, and that if he had any on him he'd better 'fess up now.  Cargile decided not to tell them about the 2.1 grams of marijuana hidden in the cuff of his pants pocket, and instead denied having anything.

Bad choice.  The drugs were discovered during the booking, and instead of a minor misdemeanor, Cargile was charged with illegally conveying drugs into a detention facility, in violation of RC 2921.36.  Cargile was briefly rescued from the consequences of his decision last year by the 8th District, which vacated his conviction, holding that since his going into the facility wasn't a voluntary act, he couldn't be convicted. 

Several other courts, including the 8th in prior cases, had ruled the same way, but on Tuesday the Supreme Court heard argument on Cargile, and it doesn't look good.  Defense counsel not showing up for the argument didn't help, but from the tone of the questions, it's not likely to have mattered.  A couple of justices, Pfeifer and O'Donnell, seemed to latch onto the dilemma a defendant in that situation faces -- either incriminate oneself or run the risk of prosecution of an additional offense -- but few seemed willing to go beyond the words of the statute:  all the statute requires is that a defendant "knowingly" convey the drugs into a detention facility, and that's what Cargile did.  What's particularly maddening is that Cargile could have had almost 50 times as much marijuana as he did, and it still would have been a minor misdemeanor, with a maximum $100 fine.  Instead, he'll get stuck with a 3rd degree felony.  And the ultimate irony is that he was acquitted of the robbery charge that was the basis for the arrest.

Coming to a city near you... Courtesy of Sentencing Law & Policy comes this story from NPR about the consequences of Miami's sex offender residency restrictions:

In Miami, a causeway in the middle of Biscayne Bay has become home to one of the county's least desirable populations: sex offenders. What began a few years ago as a stopgap solution has become de facto public policy.  For sex offenders with few resources who want to stay in Miami, there's just one option: an encampment of tents and shacks on the Julia Tuttle Causeway.

The "Google mistrial."  I make it a point any more in trial to ask the judge to instruct the jury not to attempt to access any information about the case on the Internet.  I learned that from sad experience:  last year, I had a child rape case in which the first question from the jury was that someone had checked out the Revised Code online, and wanted to know why the defendant hadn't been charged with sexual misconduct with a minor.

That pales in comparison to this story from the Times (hat tip to CrimProfBlog):

Last week, a juror in a big federal drug trial in Florida admitted to the judge that he had been doing research on the case on the Internet, directly violating the judge's instructions and centuries of legal rules. But when the judge questioned the rest of the jury, he got an even bigger shock.

Eight other jurors had been doing the same thing. The federal judge, William J. Zloch, had no choice but to declare a mistrial, a waste of eight weeks of work by federal prosecutors and defense lawyers.

Maybe he just didn't have a computer.  Then there's this story:

A Hillsboro, Ore., man who left jury duty after lunch because he was "extremely bored" was due back at the courthouse Tuesday to be arraigned on a charge of contempt of court.

A police report says officers found 25-year-old Grant Faber near his home earlier this month and asked why he skipped out. He said he was bored, and "just couldn't take it" anymore.

The wife and I will be decorating our Memorial Day tree this weekend, and there's always the last-minute flurry of Memorial Day gift shopping.  I'll be back on Tuesday with the Case Update.


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