New Criminal Vehicular Operation Trial?: Should a jury note in Amy Senser’s trial lead to a new trial? Part I

The people of Edina have certainly heard about Amy Senser and her recent criminal conviction for Criminal Vehicular Operation and Crimianal Vehicular Homicide. Her trial for criminal vehicular homicide has been all over the news and in the papers, causing many people to have their own opinions on her innocence or guilt. Regardless of others opinions, however, Senser is entitled to a fair trial and certain protections, including the Sixth Amendment right to be at a critical period of the criminal proceedings.

Her attorney has said that she wasn’t present at one such critical stage and that she deserves to be acquitted or receive a new trial. The attorney has filed a Minnesota Motion for a new trial in which he argues it was a violation of Senser’s constitutional rights when the judge failed to tell the defense attorney and prosecutor of a note the jury had passed him after deliberation.

The jury forewoman wrote a note after the jury had already finished deliberations, but before they had handed the judge their guilty verdict in the Minnesota Criminal Vehicular Operation and Homicide case. The note said that the jury thought that Senser had believed she had hit another vehicle, but not that she had hit another person, when she allegedly hit a chef last year.

Senser’s attorney says that the note indicates that the jury didn’t really understand what the law was and that they convicted Senser on the belief that she had caused property damage with her vehicle. The problem is, however, that the statute under which Senser was charged only allowed conviction if Senser knew that she injured or killed another person, not if she damaged a vehicle.

For more information on the Amy Senser trial, please read our previous posts.

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

Involve a criminal appeal attorney soon after you learn the prosecution is appealing your sentence. Your attorney will walk you through the involving and confusing sentencing guidelines. An attorney's involvement will also help you develop a defense strategy for the appeal.