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Judge's error means retrial for man convicted of murder

From the Associated Press: A Charles County man convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend will get a new trial because the judge failed to follow a century-old procedure known as “hearkening” after the verdict was read.

Isa Manuel Santiago was convicted in 2006 of killing LaToya Taylor, who was seeking child support from Santiago. He was sentenced to 55 years in prison.

The Maryland Court of Appeals upheld an earlier ruling that Santiago's conviction must be thrown out because the judge failed to confirm that the jury's verdict was unanimous. The 4-3 decision came Monday.

State law requires unanimous verdicts. After the verdict is read, lawyers can ask that jurors be polled. If there's no poll, the judge or clerk is supposed to confirm the verdict by reading a standard phrase asking the jurors to “hearken to your verdict.”

By Washington Post Editors  |  December 23, 2009; 12:27 PM ET
Categories:  Charles , From the Courthouse , Homicide  
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so once again it just goes to show that our justice really doesn't have much to do with justice, but rather playing the game by the rules established...the fact that he did the crime is secondary to not confirming the verdict with the jury. Why not just poll the jurors now and not have to go through the expense of another trial? Will it change the outcome?>

Posted by: pennv | December 23, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

It's a good thing we have so many rules. Otherwise we'd have to use common sense.

Posted by: danfromnva1 | December 23, 2009 5:31 PM | Report abuse

This is just one more example of the "Trial Lawyers Full Employment Act".

And the Legal profession wonders why they rank at the absolute bottom of respect and admiration rankings when the public is polled.

Posted by: Guvernor | December 23, 2009 5:46 PM | Report abuse

Murder is terrible. Murder to avoid taking financial responsibility for one's child is sickening. If the guy is convicted by a unanimous verdict after a fair trial, I hope he spends every day of the 55 years in prison. But not before then. If the verdict was not unanimous, then, under the law, there is no conviction. I don't understand people who are willing to jettison others' rights so freely. I sincerely hope none of the prior commentators ever has cause to exercise any of the rights our Constitution guarantees to criminal defendants. I also hope that, if they do, the person judging them gets even the little things right. Speaking of the judge, why isn't any ire directed at the judge who failed to follow a century-old procedure? The better way to avoid the problem is to apply the established rules designed to minimize mistakes and generate confidence in criminal trial outcomes, not blow them off when it is inconvenient.

Posted by: WilliamORights | December 23, 2009 7:46 PM | Report abuse

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