State v. Guytan

In State v. Guytan, 192 Ariz. 514, 968 P.2d 587, 594 (Ariz. Ct. App. 1998), the original jury had been deliberating for only thirty minutes after they received the case for consideration when the court recessed until the following day. The next morning, one of the empaneled jurors failed to appear and an alternate juror was substituted. The trial court instructed the jurors that each of them was to actively participate and return a verdict that represented individual thinking expressed collectively. The trial court further advised the jurors to give the matter their full attention but did not expressly instruct the jury to begin its deliberations anew. The reconstituted jury deliberated for approximately five hours before reaching its verdict. On appeal, the appellate court held that the error in failing to expressly instruct the jury to begin deliberations anew was harmless. Of significance to the appellate court was that the original jury had engaged in minimal deliberations before substitution of the alternate juror. In addition, the defendant failed to object to the lack of an express instruction to begin deliberations anew. Also, the instructions given by the trial court--that each of the jurors actively participate in deliberations and give the matter the benefit of his or her individual thinking--ameliorated any risk of confusion concerning the jurors' duty during deliberations. Finally, the appellate court concluded that the amount of time the reconstituted jury spent deliberating was a factor mitigating the trial court's failure to instruct the jury to begin deliberations anew.