So what happens if a jury can't come to a decision?

The jury in the Yanez manslaughter trial appears to be deadlocked.
Author:
Updated:
Original:

The jury in the officer Jeronimo Yanez manslaughter trial seems to be deadlocked after three days, unable to come to a unanimous agreement on whether the officer was reckless when he fatally shot Philando Castile.

In court Wednesday, Judge William H. Leary III reread part of the jury instructions, saying it's the jury's "goal" to reach a verdict – but only if each person can do so without "violating your individual judgement."

Leary, reading the instructions, said jurors should decide the case for themselves, but only after considering the views of the other jurors. After that, he sent them back to continue deliberating. As of Thursday morning, the jury had deliberated for about 20 hours.

What happens if they can't agree?

If a jury can't come to a unanimous decision – all of them agreeing on the same thing – it's called a hung jury. At that point the judge can declare a mistrial.

How long jury deliberations last before a mistrial is declared is up to the judge.

(Note: The jury can deliver a partial verdict. So if they unanimously agree on at least one of the charges against Yanez, they can deliver that verdict. But Scott Swanson, a professor at the University of St. Thomas School of Law, told GoMN jurors have to express that to the judge.)

Swanson said he thinks the judge will probably have the jury keep deliberating if the vote is close (like 11-1). But if the vote is still tight (say, 7-5), the judge will probably declare a mistrial the next time the jury contacts them saying they're deadlocked.

What if the judge declares a mistrial?

A mistrial pretty much means the trial couldn't finish as normal, so it's void. Like it never happened.

If a judge declares a mistrial, the prosecution gets to decide whether the case will be retried and attempted again. In the Yanez case, that's the Ramsey County Attorney's Office.

If you're really interested in trial procedures, you can read all about it in the Minnesota Court Rules here.

Next Up

Related