United States v. Jordan, No. 19-40499 (5th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of defendants' motion for a new trial on the basis of prejudicial outside influence on the jury. The court held that the district court did not abuse its broad discretion in granting the motion for a new trial without holding an evidentiary hearing. To the extent there is a bright-line rule applicable to allegations of outside influence on the jury, the court held that it was not applicable to this case. Furthermore, the district court did not abuse its discretion in exercising its prerogative, within broadly defined parameters, to handle the allegation of outside influence in the least disruptive manner possible in this unusual case. Finally, the district court permissibly concluded that the evidence showed a sufficient likelihood of prejudice to shift the burden to the Government, and that the Government did not (and could not) show "no reasonable possibility that the jury's verdict was influenced by" the CSO's comments.