Juror Laura Kriho's Conviction
--First Conviction on Newly Created Crime

If you had any doubts that the "War on Drugs" was not getting out of hand, or that we are not living up to this country's ideals, this should remove those doubts.

This past week Laura Kriho was found guilty of a newly-created crime. She was the holdout juror in a drug case. The WOD has eroded our rights more than most Americans realize, and here is another sad example:

Jury Rights Under Assault

On February 10, 1997, Colorado 1st Judicial District Chief Judge Henry Nieto found Laura Kriho guilty of contempt of court, for failure during jury selection, to volunteer information concerning her opinions and experiences. The court found Ms. Kriho deliberately withheld and concealed her views on drug laws and her own prior experience with a drug arrest - despite the fact she was never asked questions on these matters.


A new legal duty has been created in Colorado by the Court in convicting Ms. Kriho: the duty of potential jurors to volunteer information during jury selection, concerning their political beliefs and attitudes, and concerning their life's experiences, if they think the court wants the information - despite the fact they are not specifically asked pertinent

Laura Kriho is the first person convicted of violating this newly minted crime of failure to volunteer information during jury selection. Evidence that Ms. Kriho harbored secret views on the wisdom of the drug laws was obtained from statements Ms. Kriho allegedly made during jury deliberations.

Ms. Kriho was acquitted of perjury during jury selection, but found guilty of concealing her beliefs. No longer is it enough to honestly answer the questions you are asked - now you also have to answer the questions you were not asked, but that you "knew" the judge wanted answered.

If this new legal duty is affirmed by Colorado's appellate courts, future jurors will need to be advised of their rights during jury selection. Even worse, jurors will need to be advised that any statement made during deliberations may later be used against them in a criminal prosecution, for failure to volunteer an opinion or experience during jury selection.

One wonders whether Colorado courts will have counsel available for jurors unable to afford a lawyer.

Laura Kriho's prosecution and Judge Nieto's verdict will have a chilling effect on jury service and jury deliberations. Fewer citizens will be willing to serve, and open and honest discussion in the jury room will be suppressed. We are optimistic that Colorado's appellate courts will reverse Laura Kriho's outrageous conviction, and repudiate the trial court's attack on the jury system so essential to the American system of justice.


Paul Grant, Attorney at Law
11911 Highway 83, Suite 205
Parker CO 80134
(303) 841-9649 (phone)
(303) 841-9671 (fax)
Email: pkgrant@ix.netcom.com

February 12, 1997

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