Jury Can’t Convict in Robbery Trial – Potential Jurors Kicked Off Earlier


By Mihajla Milovanovic

VENTURA, CA – A jury here in Ventura County Superior Court late Friday could not reach a verdict on one felony charge of robbery and the use of a deadly weapon (knife), but did vote to convict Derek Marr for misdemeanor obstruction/resisting a peace officer.

The trial began earlier this week, and the jury took two days to deliberate. The robbery mistrial was called Friday by the judge after the jury reported an 8-4, for guilty, deadlocked vote on the robbery charge.

The trial got off to a rocky start, even before it really began, during jury selection when some potential jurors said they may not be able to be objective if the accused refused to testify. More than a half dozen were excused.

Assistant Public Defender Nicholas Gray asked, “If the judge tells you that it’s against the law as a juror to consider the defendant’s silence, do you think you would be able to follow that law?”

One of the jurors responded, “Silence is powerful too, but I would need to know the rationale. I would be conflicted.” Another juror brought up the felony at hand and explained that because of the seriousness of the crime, that it would lead to a suggestion of guilty.

Another juror was asked the same question and they said, “I don’t know, he robbed somebody with a knife, it would be in the back of my mind.” Both of the jurors that spoke out on this aspect of the case were excused.

One of the main questions asked by a juror in regard to the right to not testify was, “Why does this law exist?” The only response that the juror received from PD Gray was, “It’s in the Constitution.”

Another juror was asked about Marr’s past police encounters that occurred about 10 years ago. He explained that law enforcement has pulled him over for unnecessary reasons on multiple occasions. The potential jurors was later excused.

PD Gray then explained, “Many of us have friends in law enforcement, does anyone here think that law enforcement personnel are more credible because of their career?” All of the jurors replied “no” to this question.

Deputy District Attorney Theresa Pollara began to question the jurors and explained that the specific jury they are looking for needs to look at both perspectives. She stated, “(The accused has an) absolute right to be silent, it’s one of the most basic rights.”

She added the accused’s right to remain silent is one of the most important aspects to law in the courtroom that “creates justice.”


About The Author

Mihajla is a third year undergraduate student at the University of Southern California. She is pursing a major in Spanish and a minor in Immigration law. After graduation, she plans to go to law school and become an immigration lawyer.

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