Behind a “Hung Jury”


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MASON CITY, IA-This Crooks trail is definitely sparking questions surrounding a “hung jury” … and what that really means.
There’s a couple of different ways this can all pan out.

First, the jurors could reach a decision, which is most common, but if they don’t – the defendant doesn’t necessarily get to walk away from their charges either.
There are two things citizens of the United States are required to do …pay taxes and, if selected, serve on a jury.

But it’s not always an easy task.

“In all fairness, nobody wants to sit in judgement of another person. It is difficult to be on a jury so it’s a tough job too, it’s not like what we read in the paper, a little blurb, it’s a slam dunk, it’s not that easy when you hear all the evidence,” said Attorney Joel Yunek.

Sometimes, twelve people are not able to come to a unanimous decision on the case they’re assigned to…And when they become’s considered a “hung jury.”

However, that situation is not very common during trials.

“Way more than 1/2 the ones that come back and say we’re hung up don’t wind up hung up, they just haven’t worked their way through the deal,” said Yunek.

That happened during a high-profile case in Iowa a few years ago.
Mark Becker was on trial for the murder of Aplington Parkersburg football coach Ed Thomas.
During deliberations, jurors headed back to the courtroom to review evidence, which brought up speculation of a mis-trial.
We caught up with the jury foreman after the trial back in 2010.
He told us it was the insanity verdict they were having a hard time with

“It’s a lot easier for us to see a physical injury..Well it’s easy to see the result, it’s medication but when it has something has to do with the mind, it’s very hard to look into another person’s mind,” said Becker Trial Foreman Doug Schueler

He says after reviewing evidence again, jurors decided unanimously to not accept the insanity argument.

That decision saved taxpayers quite a bit of money, because if a mis-trial is declared, the whole process must all be done again.
However, lawyers are able to get some insight into why the jurors couldn’t agree.

“What happens is the jurors get interviewed by the lawyers and say what was the hang up and if there’s something the state figures they can’t prove, they’ll either try to reach a plea agreement of maybe not re-bring the case,” said Yunek.

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