Lawyers for Johnny Benjamin, the former Vero Beach spine surgeon facing life in prison on federal drug charges, clashed with prosecutors last week over a defense bid to bring the jurors who convicted the island resident back for the court room for questioning. Donnie Murrell, the lead West Palm Beach trial attorney on Benjamin’s case, asked the judge May 1 to recall the jury. Benjamin was convicted and jurors discharged April 27.
After the panel was excused, a clerk found a document entitled “Here are 30 do’s and don’ts of jury deliberations,” Murrell wrote the court. While the list itself isn’t clearly prejudicial, its presence is proof that at least one juror ignored the court’s instructions and conducted their own outside research.
“The concern, of course, is what is unknown here,” Murrell stated. “What other materials, if any, were brought into the jury room? If other material was introduced, how many jurors were exposed to it? Did it have an impact on their deliberations and/or the ultimate verdict? Unfortunately, the only way to determine the answers to these questions is to summon the jurors back to the courthouse and ask them.”
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