Published on: Thursday, December 7, 2023

The occasional mistrial in a fact-heavy criminal case is a job hazard prosecutors and defense attorneys have come to expect, but a lone juror's sudden sabotage of a guilty verdict last week was a first to many in the New Jersey federal courthouse (article available here).

The jurors, who deliberated for a fraught three and a half days, on Dec. 1, 2023, notified the court that they had reached a guilty verdict on one of the two counts of securities fraud against Marc Schessel and that they were deadlocked on the other count.

After the forewoman delivered the guilty verdict, the judge polled the jurors, and each individually indicated agreement – until she got to the last juror.

"Juror No. 12, do you agree with the verdict as read by your foreperson?" the judge asked.

"No!" he responded firmly.

Everyone — including the court reporter, attorneys on both sides and the judge — openly said during courtroom side-conversations that they had never seen a juror dispute a verdict.

The judge then granted the mistrial motion by defense lawyer.

The case is USA v. Schessel, case number 2:22-cr-00374, in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.