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Jury Misconduct: Bribery for Cut of Verdict

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By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on May 24, 2011 9:46 AM

It's not often that a case about jury misconduct makes headlines. Deonarine Persaud, 53, was arrested in New York after he tried to bribe the plaintiff's mother in the case he was sitting as a juror in.

The plaintiff in that case, Bridget Wigand, filed a medical malpractice suit against her physician. Wigand's mother received a phone call from Persaud when the jury was about to deliberate, reports CBS-2.

The man on the other line said that he had some vital, damaging information for Wigand's case. Wigand's father met the man, now revealed to be Persaud, who told him that he would be willing to sway the other jurors to find for their daughter - for a fee.

The Wigands called their lawyer, who called the district attorney and the judge. Wigand's malpractice case was declared a mistrial due to the jury misconduct, according to CBS-2.

Persaud is now facing up to 7 years in jail for felony bribe receiving by a juror and a misdemeanor count of jury misconduct, reports CBS-2.

Bribery is generally an offense that can be charged to both the person who is offering the bribe, and the person who is receiving the bribe. In New York, bribe receiving by a juror is a Class-D felony offense. Under the relevant statute, a juror is guilty if he solicits, accepts or agrees to accept a benefit from a person in return for his vote, opinion, or judgment on the pending case.

Under New York law, juror misconduct can fall into two categories: first degree or second degree juror misconduct. Under the second degree juror misconduct charge, a person must have accepted or agreed to accept a benefit in response to supplying information about the proceeding. Juror misconduct in the first degree, a more serious offense, involves agreeing to give a vote, opinion, judgment, or decision about the pending matter.

It seems that Persaud falls under a juror misconduct in the first degree charge, a Class-A misdemeanor. Jury misconduct should be taken seriously - an impartial trial is a tenant that our justice system is based upon.

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