CRIMINAL LAW – Jury selection, alternate discharged: Mark Lee Crossland v. Commonwealth of Kentucky (SC 8/27/2009)

Mark Lee Crossland v. Commonwealth of Kentucky
2007-SC-000689-MR August 27, 2009

Opinion by Chief Justice Minton. All sitting; all concur.

Crossland appealed his conviction on burglary and arson charges, claiming he was entitled to reversal because the trial court excused a juror and replaced him with a discharged alternate after the case had already been submitted to the jury.

The Court held that consistent with Woods and Thurman, postsubmission juror substitutions constitute reversible error. However, the Court held that the issue was subject to harmless error analysis. The Court did not find the error to be harmless in this particular instance since the trial court did not engage in a colloquy to determine if the substitute juror had been subjected to outside influence which could compromise his ability to act impartially after being released from the jury. Also, the trial court failed to instruct the jury that they must begin deliberations afresh once the substitute juror rejoined their ranks.

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