Lies in Jury Selection May Lead to New Trial

By Andrew Chow, Esq. on February 22, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A New York woman's lies to get on a jury may lead to a new trial, in a case that sheds light on what constitutes juror misconduct.

Catherine Conrad of Bronx, N.Y., admits she lied to "seem more juror-marketable" in a tax-fraud case in 2011, the New York Daily News reports. Conrad was selected as Juror No. 1, and four men were convicted.

Conrad, a suspended lawyer, insists she fulfilled her duty as a juror by deliberating without bias. But Conrad's lies amount to juror misconduct and warrant a new trial, the convicted men's lawyers say.

Juror misconduct can occur in several ways, according to the American Judicature Society. They include taking bribes, making improper contact with a party to a case, behaving improperly like sleeping during a trial, and lying during the jury-selection process, also known as voir dire.

If juror misconduct is discovered before the jury deliberates, a judge can dismiss the misbehaving jurors and call up alternates to serve instead. But if jury deliberations are already underway, a judge may order a new trial with a new jury.

In Catherine Conrad's case, she admits to lying during voir dire by omitting her law degree, her criminal record which includes assault and shoplifting charges, and the fact that her law license was suspended due to problems with alcoholism.

Conrad's alleged motive for lying to get on the jury: She missed the dynamics of the courtroom, The New York Law Journal reports.

But prosecutors allege at least one defense lawyer knew about Conrad's lies when the jury began to deliberate, and should have raised concerns at that point. A judge will weigh that allegation, along with the effects of Conrad's deceit, in considering whether to grant a new trial.

Suspended lawyer Catherine Conrad received immunity for testifying at the new-trial hearing, and will not be prosecuted for lying to get on a jury. It's not clear when the judge will decide on the consequences of the juror's misconduct.

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