South Carolina Court of Appeals Rules Convicted Defendant’s Have “Polling Rights”
In 2017, Randy Wright was charged and convicted of assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature in Berkeley County, just north of Charleston. Wright requested that the trial court poll each juror individually, but the court refused and explained that the jurors raised their hand individually. Polling, if occurred, would require each juror to individually state that he found the defendant guilty.
The South Carolina Court of Appeals found that the trial courts refusal to allow Wright to individually poll the jurors did not satisfy his polling rights and was reversable error.
The Court of Appeals quoted precedent:
“The right to poll the jury is not in itself a constitutional right but a procedural protection of the defendant’s constitutional right to a unanimous verdict”
“It is our firm view that depriving a defendant of his or her polling right is not a technicality, but a material and prejudicial error.”
And the Court specifically stated, “We are aware retrials are costly and impeded judicial efficiency. We are equally aware that appellate reviews requiring lengthy searches through thick transcripts to sense the net impact of an error on the whole trial can also be costly and inefficient where, as here, the error is not in what was done, but what was not done.”
The Court does not specifically state it, but it appears that the Court is appealing to people’s practically understanding of efficiency. To put it another way, it doesn’t take so long to individually poll each juror so if it is requested it should be done.
Source: State v. Randy Wright