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US v. Jadlowe, 08-2449

Claim of structural error in jury instruction in a drug conspiracy related conviction

US v. Jadlowe, 08-2449, concerned a challenge to the district court's conviction of defendant for drug conspiracy related offenses.  In affirming, the court held that, although the district court erred in instructing the jurors that they could discuss the case among themselves during the trial, before formal deliberations commences, the record shows beyond a reasonable doubt that the flawed instruction did not compromise the jury's deliberative process.  The court also held that the district court did not commit reversible error in the suppression and evidentiary rulings that defendant challenges.


As the court wrote: " We thus conclude that Supreme Court precedent "insist[s] upon a showing of individual prejudice" when a court improperly instructs jurors in a criminal case that they may discuss the evidence before formal deliberations commence. Marcus, 130 S. Ct. at 2166. Indeed, although the practice remains rare, the authorization of jury discussion in criminal cases by some courts and the Arizona Supreme Court Committee's recommendation that it be permitted in both civil and criminal trials reinforce our conclusion that the instruction here should not be classified as structural error requiring automatic reversal of the defendant's conviction."

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