Supreme Court overturns Reno drug trafficking conviction
The Supreme Court has overturned the drug trafficking conviction of Frederick Bowman of Reno citing both juror misconduct and the judge’s failure to order jurors not to conduct their own investigations into the case.
Washoe County Deputies charged him at the jail after finding a small package of meth at his feet during intake at the jail. Bowman argued the drug package was stuck to a deputy’s boot. The state said it was in Bowman’s clothing and fell out during the intake search.
Two jurors conducted their own experiments on the different theories of the case and confessed to counsel they relied on those experiments in deciding Bowman was guilty. They also admitted discussing their experiments with other jurors.
But the trial judge rejected the motion for a new trial, forcing an appeal.
The high court panel of Justices Michael Cherry, Michael Douglas and Mark Gibbons ruled it was uncontested juror misconduct occurred. They ruled those experiments most probably affected the verdict.
They also ruled that the district court should have provided an instruction admonishing jurors not to do independent research into the case, adding that instruction should be provided in all cases.
The combination of errors, they ruled, warrants reversal of the conviction and a new trial.