In 2011, a Michigan State Trooper was sentenced to 20 months in prison for allegedly engaging in inappropriate sexual conduct with a 12-year-old girl. David Morikawa was convicted on two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, and was a trooper at the Iron County post. He was granted parole in March of this year.
Just last month, the Michigan Court of Appeals ordered a new trial in Morikawa’s case and overturned his conviction. During his initial trial, the jury became deadlocked after a revelation made by one of the jurors. The appeals court ruled that when the jury became deadlocked, the defendant’s attorney did not do his job.
According to a news article at The Detroit Free Press, jurors became deadlocked after deliberating the case for several hours. They were brought back the following day for further deliberation, and after just an hour, sent a note to the judge. The note indicated that one of the jurors had been investigated for sexual misconduct four to five years prior to the trial, but cleared of any wrongdoing. The juror said that he had touched a young girl during a group picture shoot at a Christmas party. Feeling that it would not affect his judgment in the case, he did not mention the investigation during juror questioning. The juror feely admitted to the court that he was one of the two holdouts, and the judge brought in an alternate after dismissing him. Morikawa’s lawyer did not object when the judge then instructed the jury to renew deliberations.
The appeals court determined that according to state law, the defendant’s attorney made an error in not pointing out to the judge that the jury should have been instructed to begin deliberations anew. The appeals court found that with the majority of jurors arguing for conviction, proper instruction and beginning deliberations anew with the fresh perspective of a new juror could have effected the outcome. The court ultimately ordered a new trial.
Mitchell Foster, Morikawa’s new lawyer, stated that it was nice to see the appeals court would uphold his client’s right to a fair trial, and that Morikawa was pleased with the ruling.
Individuals who feel they were wrongly convicted or did not receive a fair trial should consult with an experienced Michigan criminal appeals attorney at once. As is indicated in this case, errors can be made at any point during the criminal justice process by judges, prosecutors, and defense lawyers. When it is your future or reputation hanging in the balance, a seasoned appeals lawyer will explore your options.