Should a jury note in Amy Senser’s trial lead to a new trial? Part II

Earlier in the week, we talked about a note that could possibly lead to a new criminal vehicular homicide trial for Amy Senser. Though the Hennepin County judge who tried her case for a supposed hit-and-run that happened last year has not yet decided whether he will grant a new trial or acquit Senser of her criminal charges, he has 15 days to determine what he will do.

The attorney has also argued that the state’s case was purely circumstantial because no one saw the accident. While a suspect can be convicted on circumstantial evidence alone, the state must provide enough evidence to support a conviction. The attorney believes that prosecutors failed to provide sufficient evidence.

Ultimately it will depend on the judge’s decision if a new trial will be granted, but some legal professionals believe that Senser will have a difficult time. One of the biggest concerns is that a judge will not try to determine what jury members were thinking when deliberating. Examining the note, however, may require the court to decipher what the jury meant.

One of the other obstacles is that the defense attorney failed to object to the judge’s instructions to the jury, which is interpreted as an acceptance that the instructions were correct.

Since being charged with the young chef’s death last year, Senser has ridden a storm of bad publicity and vilification. This does not mean, however, that she should receive anything less than a fair trial, including being convicted on sufficient evidence.

Source: Pioneer Press, “Amy Senser lawyer says judge’s miscue is cause for new trial,” David Hanners, May 18, 2012

He has won jury trial cases in misdemeanor and felony cases and in DWI’s and non-DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. He is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

What to Do If You Have Been Charged with a Criminal Offense

People facing criminal charges in Minnesota often ask, “Can you defend yourself in court?” You can represent yourself in court when charged with a crime. Self-representation, however, is not typically in the accused's best interests, even if courts allow it.
Parents whose children have been arrested or accused of committing a heinous crime might wonder, “Can a minor be charged with a felony?” A minor aged 14 years or older but below 18 years may face felony charges in Minnesota.
People accused of or under investigation for assault might ask, “What are the charges for assault?” Minnesota has five levels of assault charges. First-degree assault is the most serious offense, and a conviction often results in the most severe penalties, like long prison time and hefty fines.