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United States v. Gagnon
United States Supreme Court
470 U.S. 522, 105 S. Ct. 1482, 84 L. Ed. 2d 486 (1985)
Gagnon (defendant) and his three codefendants were tried together in connection with a cocaine-distribution conspiracy. During the trial, a juror expressed concern after noticing that Gagnon was sketching members of the jury. The judge, in open court but while jurors were not present, told Gagnon to stop sketching and announced a recess so that the judge could speak with the concerned juror in chambers. The judge, the juror, and Gagnon’s attorney then met in chambers. The judge explained that Gagnon was an artist and that he meant no harm by sketching the jurors, but that the judge would make sure the sketching stopped. The juror affirmed that he could continue his duties with impartiality, and, after briefly questioning the juror, Gagnon’s attorney confirmed that he was satisfied with the juror’s answers. The in-chambers meeting ended, and a transcript of the meeting was made available to all parties. No motions were made concerning the in-chambers meeting, none of the parties requested jury instructions relating to the sketching, and no post-trial motions were filed with the court concerning the sketching or the in-chambers meeting. Gagnon and his codefendants were convicted and filed a consolidated appeal. On appeal, Gagnon and his codefendants claimed that the in-chambers meeting had violated their rights to be present at all stages of the trial. A divided panel of the court of appeals reversed the convictions, finding, among other things, that the rights of Gagnon and his codefendants to be present at all stages of the proceeding had been violated because they were not included in the in-chambers meeting. The case was appealed to the United States Supreme Court.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)
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