In an unusual move, a Maryland judge was forced to declare a mistrial after one of the jurors refused to deliberate, citing her religious convictions. Kevon Neal was on trial for manslaughter in the death of Adrian Morris, 23. Morris, a police officer in Prince George County, was killed while in pursuit of Neal, who was driving a stolen car. Morris, during the pursuit lost control of his patrol car and was thrown from the vehicle.
The juror sent an email to the trial Judge, saying her beliefs as a Jehovah’s witness meant that she could not sit in judgment of another human being. When he asked the juror why she had not mentioned her objection earlier in the trial, the juror said she had to do research to determine what her views were.
The judge having already dismissed the alternate jurors was forced to declare a mistrial. Neal will have to be retried. The Princes Georges State Attorney characterized the jurors conduct as a disgrace. She also stated that in conversations with the judge and other jurors the woman cited not knowing the defendant and “not having a dog in this fight”, as other reasons she could not serve. The State Attorney said a contempt hearing will be held in February and that the juror faces possible punishment.
While the Jehovah’s witnesses do not officially prohibit members from serving on juries, many do not because of the required oath and concerns about judging others. In many legal jurisdictions judges will ask if the potential juror has a moral or religious objection to jury duty during the selection process, as was done in this case. Many judges will typically dismiss Jehovah’s witnesses from serving on a jury
Attorney Patrick Donovan is a criminal defense attorney in Massachusetts that has been the lead counsel in many jury cases. Attorney Donovan has appeared in over fifty courts in Massachusetts. If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime in Massachusetts call for your free no obligation consultation.