Long v. State

151 So. 3d 498 (2014)

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Long v. State

Florida District Court of Appeal
151 So. 3d 498 (2014)

Facts

Brian Long (defendant) was charged with lewd and lascivious molestation and sexual battery of his former stepdaughter. On the day Long’s trial was scheduled to start, men wearing jackets embroidered with “Bikers Against Child Abuse” were sitting in a hallway with the jury. Long’s counsel advised the court of the jurors’ encounter with the bikers and moved for a mistrial. The prosecutor (plaintiff) stated that the bikers were friends of the victim and were in court to show their support for her. The trial court interviewed four of the jurors and dismissed one juror because she gave an equivocal answer when asked if she could remain impartial after seeing the bikers. The trial court concluded that the remaining jurors would be impartial and denied Long’s motion for a mistrial. The trial court instructed the jurors not to wear their embroidered jackets in the courtroom and not to gather near the jurors during breaks. Long was convicted and moved for a new trial because of the prejudice caused by the bikers’ presence. The court denied the motion, stating that it was confident the jury was not affected by the bikers’ presence in the courtroom and that the court did not believe it had the authority to exclude anyone from the courtroom. On appeal, Long argued that the trial court erred in denying a mistrial based on the prejudice caused by the bikers’ presence at trial.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Van Nortwick, J.)

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