Appeal from Lee Circuit Court. CC-94-128. Robert Harper, TRIAL JUDGE.
Rule 39(k) Motion Denied January 13, 1995. Rehearing Denied January 13, 1995. Certiorari Denied March 24, 1995. Released for Publication August 8, 1995.
Bowen, Judge. All Judges concur.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Bowen
Jeffery Eugene Riddle, the appellant, was convicted of assault in the third degree, was fined $500, and was sentenced to one year in the county jail. On this direct appeal from that conviction he contends that the trial court erred in refusing to quash the jury venire and in refusing to grant a mistrial based on alleged juror misconduct. We disagree.
After a jury of 13 was selected from the venire, the bailiff reported to the trial Judge that it had been "brought to [his] attention [by another juror] that a lady in the jury room, downstairs, discussed some matters of this case with some seven or eight people down in the jury room." R. 54. The "lady" was identified as veniremember Thompson. The Discussion occurred in the jury assembly room after voir dire and before selection of the jury. In response, the trial Judge questioned Juror Thompson as follows:
"THE COURT: Were you talking down in the jury room regarding the facts in this case?
"JUROR THOMPSON: I was not sure -- didn't know the names of the people involved. But I had heard by the grapevine what had happened. And I still don't know the names, but the case just sounded familiar. But, uh --
"THE COURT: Why did you not identify yourself as having heard that out in court a while ago?
"JUROR THOMPSON: Well, I'm just -- Judge, I'm sorry, I mean I just didn't add it up. And I started thinking about it.
"Q. THE COURT: What did you say to the other jurors there in the jury room?
"A. JUROR THOMPSON: I just said, that I think that I had heard this story, when we were sitting downstairs in the jury [assembly] room.
"THE COURT: What did you tell the others that ...