Acquittal for Juror Who Did Internet Research

October 13 2005, 12:40 PM

After a half-day trial to the court, Fort Collins juror Glen Hoffman was found not guilty by the Judge of contempt of court. Hoffman, as we reported here, reported to other jurors he had done independent internet research during the double murder trial of Alan Bergerud. Hoffman had been the only juror not willing to cast a guilty vote for Bergerud, who was facing a possible death penalty if convicted. Hoffman's lawyer argued that Hoffman never shared the results of his research with the other jurors, and he thought he was only prohibited from researching information about the trial or Bergerud's case, not the facts. The judge declared a mistrial in Bergerud's case, and he will be re-tried, but this time prosecutors have taken the death penalty off the table. Remember the case of Robert Harlan who was sentenced to death for killing Rhonda Maloney? The Colorado Supreme Court upheld the vacating of his death sentence because a juror brought a bible into deliberations and read passages aloud to other jurors. This is the second time in recent years where a juror's disregard of the court's instruction not to bring extraneous matter into the jury room or conduct independent research had the effect of sparing a defendant's life. As a death-penalty opponent, I'm pleased with both final outcomes. But it would be a lot better if jurors just followed the rules.

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