Inconsistent Jury Verdicts
In United States v. Powell, 469 U.S. 57, 64-65 (83 L. Ed. 2d 461, 105 S. Ct. 471) (1984), the Court found that inconsistent verdicts could be the result of jury mistake, compromise, or lenity, but it is unknown whether the mistake, compromise, or lenity was exercised in favor of the defendant or the prosecution. Id.
Similarly, the Supreme Court of Georgia has observed that appellate courts cannot know and should not speculate why a jury acquitted on one offense and convicted on another offense.
The reason could be an error by the jury in its consideration or it could be mistake, compromise, or lenity. Stated another way, it is imprudent and unworkable to allow criminal defendants to challenge inconsistent verdicts on the ground that in their case the verdict was not the product of lenity, but of some error that worked against them.
Such an individualized assessment of the reason for the inconsistency would be based either on pure speculation, or would require inquiries into the jury's deliberations that the courts generally will not undertake. Turner v. State. Turner v. State, 283 Ga. 17, 20 (2) (655 SE2d 589) (2008).
The Supreme Court of Georgia has recognized an exception to the abolition of the inconsistent verdict rule: "When instead of being left to speculate about the unknown motivations of the jury, the appellate record makes transparent the jury's reasoning why it found the defendant not guilty of one of the charges, there is no speculation, and the policy explained in Powell and adopted in Milam does not apply." Id. at 20-21 (2). See King v. Waters. King v. Waters, 278 Ga. 122, 123 (1) (598 SE2d 476) (2004).