THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. MICHAEL ANTHONY FLORES, Defendant and Appellant. (Cal. Ct. App., Oct. 8, 2021, No. C089569) 2021 WL 4698468, at *1–2
Summary: Flores was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter after the jury initially declared it was unable to reach a unanimous verdict. Flores moved for a new trial based on evidence the jury considered his sentence in determining the verdict. The jurors’ declarations in support of the new trial motion showed the jury was deadlocked between second degree murder and voluntary manslaughter. After discussing the possibility that Flores would “walk” if it were to hang, the jury found him guilty of voluntary manslaughter. The trial court denied defendant’s new trial motion, finding inadmissible any evidence of the jury’s deliberations regarding punishment and that discussing punishment during deliberations is not misconduct.
The court of appeal reversed, finding: (1) the trial court erred in finding inadmissible the entire contents of the jurors’ declarations submitted in support of the new trial motion; (2) consideration of the admissible portions of the jurors’ declarations establish misconduct occurred, raising a rebuttable presumption of prejudice; and (3) the People failed to rebut the presumption of prejudice.