Jury selection was going smoothly until around 1:30 pm on July 7, 2014, after the court returned from recess. An outburst from defendant Robert Barron led Judge David Rosenberg to declare a mistrial, questioning the competence of the defendant.
Robert Barron is charged with one count of resisting a peace officer.
It was during a question to a potential juror by the defense attorney that would apparently cause Robert Barron to speak out.
But, according to Mr. Barron’s statements during the outburst, he would state loudly that he had been hit by the officer several times in the head.
His attorney, Deputy Public Defender Richard Van Zandt, asked a female potential juror,” If the defendant does not testify, would it be difficult to make a decision on guilt or innocence?”
The juror expressed she did not quite understand the question.
So the defendant, Mr. Barron decided to begin explaining it to her.
However, Judge Rosenberg calmly pleaded with Barron to stop talking. It was Barron’s refusal to cooperate that led Rosenberg to dismiss potential jurors from the courtroom.
Mr. Barron continued to tell the judge that he had tried to excuse his lawyer but could not. He stated:
“I’m sorry your honor, I’m just sick of the lies and gossip done by the lawyers. I was beaten in the head. I am confused but I can be quiet…I have been locked up for 5 months and for what? I walked across a lawn…that’s it…I’m innocent. I’ve researched the law and they have no right to hold me!” Barron exclaimed vehemently.
Rosenberg continued his effort to calm Barron down, but not before jurors witnessed the bailiff putting him in a choke hold after Barron quickly pulled his arm away when the bailiff attempted to detain him.
Immediately following the jurors leaving the courtroom, Mr. Van Zandt would ask for a mistrial. He stated the potential jury would be affected by the conduct of Barron and the choke hold they witnessed.
Once jurors exited the room, Judge Rosenberg questioned the defendant. After a brief voir dire, Judge Rosenberg felt that Mr. Barron did not fully understand what was going on. He was unable to identify the roles of the prosecution and defense and admitted to not knowing what was going on, after a feud lasting several minutes.
Judge Rosenberg declared a mistrial ordering all criminal proceedings to halt, pending the outcome of a psychiatric evaluation done on Mr. Barron.
He stated to both counsel, “In a case such as this where the charges are resisting an officer, this could ring a bell for jurors.”
Rosenberg then explained to potential jurors as they were brought back, “It is unfortunate trials have to end this way but it is what it is, I am sorry you had to witness this drama.”
He stated he was declaring a mistrial as he felt the defendant does not understand the nature of what is happening.
He thanked and excused the potential panel.
Mr. Barron’s hearing will continue on August 1, 2014, with the results of the psychiatric evaluation.