The jury is essential to our structure of government, available to criminal defendants as the final arbiter of guilt. As this Court has recognized time and again, the jury serves an important role both structurally within the balance of powers and as a check on governmental power, adding a layer of protection for individual defendants.
The rule applied by the Ninth Circuit and some other courts, allowing dismissal of a holdout juror if a judge sees no reasonable possibility that his view is connected to the merits of the case, threatens the fundamental role of the jury. In contrast to the rule endorsed by federal courts of appeals that prohibit dismissal if there is any possibility a juror's view is connected to the merits, the Ninth Circuit's rule makes dismissal of jurors easier, resulting in more frequent removal of dissenting viewpoints. Equally threatening to the jury is the practical reality of the Ninth Circuit's approach, which forces judges to invade jury deliberations in order to assess the reasonableness of a juror's views.
The rule applied below risks minimizing the role of the jury in the criminal system and forces judges to undertake intrusive assessments of the reasonableness of individual juror's views. This Court should grant certiorari and clarify the standard under which a dissenting juror can be investigated and ultimately dismissed.
Moore, Janet, "Brief of the National Association for Public Defense as Amici Curiae Supporting Petitioner, Christensen v. United States of America (U.S. November 7, 2016) (No. 16-461)." (2016). Faculty Articles and Other Publications. 353.