STATE v. MIGUEL GONZALEZ, SC 18927
Judicial District of Fairfield
Criminal; Whether Court Properly Dismissed Juror for Refusing to Deliberate; Whether Evidence of Refusal to Submit to Search Warrant Properly Admitted to Show Consciousness of Guilt. The defendant was charged with murder and criminal possession of a firearm in connection with the shooting death of Miguel Vasquez outside a Bridgeport bar. The case was tried to a jury and, after the jury had been deliberating for several days, the trial judge received information that the jury was struggling to come to a consensus. Individual jurors subsequently informed the court that the jury foreperson was not deliberating in good faith and that she had withdrawn from discussions. When the court individually questioned the other jurors about the foreperson, each juror indicated that the foreperson was not meaningfully participating in their discussions. The trial court determined that the foreperson was refusing to deliberate and it granted the state’s motion that the foreperson be replaced with an alternate juror and denied the defendant’s motion for a mistrial which claimed that the jury was deadlocked and that further instruction would not resolve the disagreement between the foreperson and the other jurors. On the same day, the court also dismissed and replaced another juror who had called stating that she could not report that day due to a medical condition. The defendant was convicted and he appeals, claiming that the jury foreperson should not have been removed because she was deliberating in good faith and because the trial court wrongly failed to apply a heightened standard of proof in deciding whether a juror who had been actively deliberating should be dismissed for cause. The defendant claims that a juror who has participated in deliberations for a reasonable period of time may not be discharged for refusing to deliberate, simply because the juror expresses the belief that further discussion would not alter her views. The defendant contends that the other jurors became frustrated with the foreperson not because she refused to deliberate, but rather because she did not agree with their opinions about the case. The defendant also argues that the trial court improperly dismissed the juror with the medical condition without inquiring into the nature of her illness or how long she would be unavailable. Finally, the defendant claims that the trial court wrongly admitted evidence that he refused to consent to a search warrant as evidence tending to show consciousness of guilt.