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Legal Expert: Jury’s Note In Senser Trial Not Grounds For Mistrial

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The note handed to the judge by the jury in the Amy Senser case shortly before the verdict was read most likely won’t be grounds for a mistrial, according to one legal expert.

The note read, “We believe, she believed she hit a car, or vehicle, and not a person.”

But the judge did not read it, and it was not shared with attorneys until after the trial.

Veteran criminal defense attorney Joe Tamburino tried to put the note into perspective with WCCO’s Jason DeRusha.

“Just because the judge made a mistake with that, does that automatically entitle you to a new trial?  No,” Tamburino said. “You have to show that the jury’s verdict was pretty much directly attributable to the judge’s mistake. And that is not the case here.”

If the judge made a mistake by not immediately disclosing the note, Tamburino said it still isn’t relevant because the verdict is in — the jury’s decision was not the result of any error relating to the note.

“The jury already found her guilty before they wrote that note,” Tamburino said. “They just said, ‘Look, we find her guilty, but judge, could you explain to her that it’s a vehicle and not a person?’”

Tamburino tried to explain the reasoning for the note.

“I think it is human nature to want to tell somebody, ‘Look, you know we heard you. We think this is a tragedy, but we really do think that this is why we found you guilty,’” Tamburino explained. “I think it’s just human nature to want to explain your decision.”

Senser is to be sentenced on July 9.

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