Shanks v. Department of Transportation

Juror was discharged and replaced too hastily without adequate investigation, after two fellow jurors complained that she did not participate in the first 90 minutes of deliberations.  A trial court may discharge a juror on good cause shown that the juror is unable to perform his duty, but the inability to perform must appear on the record as a demonstrable reality.  Here, the trial court erred in discharging juror #7 after hearing complaints from jurors #1 and #2 that #7 was not participating in deliberations during the first 90 minutes of jury deliberations.  Before discharging the juror, the trial court should have conducted a more thorough investigation including asking juror #7, the foreperson, and other jurors about whether deliberations were proceeding properly.  Since the verdict against appellant was 12-0 on liability, that verdict was not reversed, but the 9-3 verdict on apportionment of liability could have been affected by the hasty discharge of juror #7 so it was reversed.

California Court of Appeal, Second District, Division 6 (Perren, J.); March 9, 2017; 2017 WL 930813

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