Jacksonville’s citizens want to feel safe in their homes and neighborhoods. Unfortunately though, there are those people who form gangs and attempt to harm others through their associations. However, that when that individual is prosecuted for their crimes, they still have certain rights under the Constitution and laws of The United States that must be protected. If one has fallen victim to this sort of situation, one should obtain an experienced attorney to fight for one’s case and ensure one’s rights are protected.
According to the Florida Times-Union, Eric Steven Ellis has been convicted of federal racketeering charges as being part of a gang, and Maynard Kenneth Godwin is facing similar charges as the gang’s leader. Ellis is facing life in prison, while Godwin is possibly facing a new set of jury deliberations, as one juror’s misconduct in following jury instruction will most likely expel him from the jury, causing an alternate to have to fill his place.
Jacksonville racketeering crimes normally involve some form of organized crime such as gang forces, money laundering, illegal online gambling or other forms of ongoing criminal enterprises. However, the fact that the individual being charged with the crime happened to be a member of a gang does not strip them of their Constitutional right to due process and justice.
The jury, in a trial, is one of the most rudimentary and important parts of a trial because the jury represents the community of one’s peers casting judgment. However, the risk of community judgment in the form of a jury is that outside sources and influences could drive one of the jurors to be impartial. To fight this problem, the legal system imposes an enormous responsibility upon jurors to stay impartial in their findings by following jury instructions from the judge.
When a juror either disregards the judge’s directions as to the intake of evidence for consideration, arguments that were heard and facts to be construed, the juror disregards the defendant’s right to an impartial jury. Therefore, when this sort of misconduct is found in a juror, an alternate juror must take his place, causing jury deliberations to start over. This is the court system’s way of making sure that the jury stays as impartial in their decision as possible.
In this case, the juror accused of misconduct was going to disregard the Judge’s jury instructions and do research on racketeering via Google. This may not seem like a big deal to some, however, this is very important because Google sources have definitions of racketeering that are not the exact law and are not a basis by which to make a decision. Furthermore, what a website’s contents might say might possibly sway the juror in or out of favor with the defendant.
Many times in Jacksonville trials, the courtroom is filled with a tense feeling of anxiety and fear when the jury is let back in for the reading of the verdict. One should be able to feel secure when that verdict is handed down that the jurors involved protected one’s rights to impartiality. One in a situation like this should obtain an experienced Jacksonville racketeering crimes defense attorney to fight for one’s case and ensure one’s rights are protected.
The Forbess Law Firm has been aiding clients who face criminal charges in Jacksonville for more than a decade and is here to provide aggressive criminal defense to anyone accused of a crime. If you or a loved one requires a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, contact our firm today. We are available through our website or by calling us at 904-634-0900.
Jury finds Jacksonville racketeering defendant guilty; possible juror misconduct for the other defendant, Jim Schoettler, The Florida Times-Union