FROM THE CLARK COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 10CR-15-96]
HONORABLE ROBERT McCALLUM, JUDGE
Law, LLC, by: Jacob Worlow, for appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Kent G. Holt, Ass't
Att'y Gen., for appellee.
PHILLIP T. WHITEAKER, JUDGE.
Dorian Lacy appeals the order of the Clark County Circuit
Court denying his motion for new trial. This appeal follows
our previous opinion in this case, Lacy v. State,
2017 Ark.App. 509 (Lacy I), in which we ordered
supplementation of the record and addendum and rebriefing
because of deficiencies in Lacy's abstract. Those
deficiencies have been cured, and we now reach the merits of
Lacy's arguments. We affirm.
entered a plea of guilty to one count of rape, but he opted
to be sentenced by a jury. Following a sentencing trial, the
jury sentenced Lacy to forty years in the Arkansas Department
of Correction. Several weeks after the sentencing, the
prosecuting attorney disclosed to Lacy's counsel that a
juror had reported that he was personally familiar with the
rape victim. Lacy promptly filed a motion for a new trial,
asserting that although it was believed the juror was not
aware of his familiarity with the victim at the time of voir
dire, the juror nonetheless failed to notify counsel or the
court before the jury reached a verdict.
circuit court held a hearing on Lacy's new-trial motion.
The juror in question testified that during voir dire, he was
only asked if he knew the defendant or the witnesses, not
whether he knew the victim, who had not been identified
during jury selection. The juror explained that once he
realized he recognized the victim, he did not mention it
during the trial, nor did he make the other jurors aware that
he knew her during deliberations. The circuit court took the
matter under advisement and subsequently issued an order
denying Lacy's motion for a new trial. Lacy filed a
timely notice of appeal and now argues that the circuit
court's ruling constituted an abuse of discretion.
Standard of Review
filed a motion for a new trial based on allegations of juror
misconduct. As the moving party, he bears the burden of
proving that a reasonable possibility of prejudice resulted
from any such juror misconduct. Todd v. State, 2016
Ark.App. 280, 494 S.W.3d 444. This court will not presume
prejudice in such situations. Id. Jurors are
presumed unbiased and qualified to serve, and the burden is
on the appellant to show otherwise. Id. Whether
prejudice occurred is a matter for the sound discretion of
the circuit court. Id.
court in which a trial is had upon an issue of fact may grant
a new trial when a verdict is rendered against the defendant
by which his substantial rights have been prejudiced, upon
his motion, . . . [w]here, from the misconduct of the jury,
or from any other cause, the court is of opinion that the
defendant has not received a fair and impartial trial."
Ark. Code Ann. § 16-89-130(c)(7) (Repl. 2005). The
decision whether to grant or deny a motion for new trial lies
within the sound discretion of the circuit court. Jones
v. State, 355 Ark. 316, 136 S.W.3d 774 (2003). We will
not reverse a circuit court's order granting or denying a
motion for a new trial unless there is a manifest abuse of
discretion. Smart v. State, 352 Ark. 522, 104 S.W.3d
appeal, Lacy argues that the circuit court abused its
discretion in denying his motion for new trial because the
juror's failure to disclose the fact that he had a
personal connection to the victim, as well as the juror's
discussion with the other jurors about "prejudicial
extraneous information, " unduly prejudiced his
substantial rights. He notes that the juror told the rest of
the venire that he had observed "drug use and
inappropriate things" in the victim's neighborhood,
he posits that such information "injected into the other
jurors' minds the notion that [Lacy's] assault of
[the victim] was just one aspect of a much larger and much
more reprehensible reality." He suggests that prior to
the juror's conversation, the panel was "focusing on
[his] conduct as an individual and [was] not considering
[his] conduct as part of a larger problem, " but after
the juror's observations, the jury must have seen his
"individual conduct [as] playing a role in a much larger
and much more condemnable system."
argument is without merit for several reasons. First, the
conclusion he reaches in his argument is inherently
speculative. Second, it is well settled that a juror is not
required to set aside his or her own personal knowledge and
experiences when considering the evidence presented at trial.
See AMI Crim. 2d 103; Richardson v. State,
2015 Ark.App. 507, at 5, 471 S.W.3d 240, 242. In fact, this
court has held that "knowledge obtained by a juror and
brought into the jury room from the ordinary scope of his
life experiences, including knowledge obtained through his
profession or vocation, does not qualify as ...