Superior Court Judge Fred B. Ugast seems to be having some trouble keeping his juries in order.
Ugast, you recall, dismissed a two-week long murder trial last spring after two jurors got tipsy and refused to deliberate. Last summer, another juror apparently imbibed during an armed robbery trial; luckily Ugast did not have to declare a mistrial in that case.
Comes one recent Monday morning: this time his jury wasn't drunk. It was forgetful.
Usually potential jurors are asked and may be excused before serving if any of their family members have ever been the victims of a crime. That was done in this case. But after the one-week long murder trial before Ugast ended, and the jury had been deliberating for two days, in floated a note from forewoman Bessie Weaver.
"We the jury," it began.
(Ugast's stomach must have hit bottom.)
" . . . have just discovered that one of the jurors' family members was killed in a similar way in 1975. Juror No. 600 felt that she cannot be objective about a verdict at this point." gast called the Juror No. 600 in for some personal questions. Why had she not disclosed this fact before the trial had begun? The juror said she did not think of it until she went to bed the night after the jury began deliberations.
Ugast admonished her, and the other jurors, and then, after defense attorneys refused to proceed with an 11-member jury panel, a no-doubt frustrated Ugast called the whole thing off.