Monday, May 19, 2014

State v. Lessley case brief summary

State v. Lessley

3 guys were maced by a POs outside of a club; On the way to a service station to wash out their eyes, they got into an accident. D shot a passenger from the other vehicle after that guy punched him in the face upon pulling over the car. D claimed self-defense. 

On day of trial, D waived his right to a jury. State had a weak case for 2nd degree murder, so State argued that D’s jury waiver should be denied and that the State’s consent is required before a criminal defendant can waive a jury trial. Ct rejects the State’s argument and holds that the Minn. Constitution did not require State consent for waiver. 

Court said that jury waiver clause only applied to Civil Cases only, per the Minn Const. Art. I
·      Dissent argued that it was an abuse of discretion to grant the bench trial because it undermines the public’s trust and confidence in the judicial system
·      In federal court and 30+ states, the defense has to move for the waiver but both the government and court have to agree ; So the prosecutor has the power to block the bench trial
·      Almost all jurisdiction allow a defendant to waive the right to a jury trial; 30+ states condition the waiver on the judge’s agreement that a bench trial is appropriate;
·      10 states give D the sole right to move for a bench trial in a crim case (pg 545)
·      IL rule 5-115-1 pg 730 à “method of trial” gives D right to move for bench trial in writing
·      Juries may be more prejudiced to go off of the law in certain inflammatory cases; judges will be less freaked out
·      You have a right to a jury trial, but not a right to waive them!

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