The Orleans Parish Grand Jury returned an indictment charging the defendant with the aggravated rape of an eleven-year-old girl. After a trial by jury the defendant was found guilty and sentenced to death. Upon his appeal to this Court defendant relies on nine assignments of errors for a reversal of his conviction and sentence. Having found merit in Assignment of Errors No. 8, we deem it unnecessary to consider most of the other assignments.
The evidence adduced by the State reveals that the defendant raped the eleven-year-old companion of two of his nieces on September 22, 1973. During that evening the prosecutrix accompanied her companions and members of their family to an automobile dealership. She left the dealership with the young girls and their uncle, the defendant. The prosecutrix testified that the defendant left his nieces on Congress Street and proceeded to a location under a bridge, an area filled with weeds and bushes, where the rape occurred. Two New Orleans policemen on patrol spotted the defendant's parked car and decided to investigate its presence under the bridge. Upon approaching the automobile the officers noticed two people, a male and a female, in the rear seat. As the officers approached the parked automobile one of them observed the defendant fumble toward his waistband. At that time the officer drew his service revolver and ordered the man to exit the car. Upon speaking with the young girl, the officers arrested the defendant for aggravated rape. The trial and the conviction which we review followed.
The verdict of guilty which forms the basis for this defendant's conviction and death sentence was returned by the twelve man jury after less than nine hours' deliberation. The record indicates that the jury, after having previously returned to the courtroom for reinstruction, again returned into open court five hours after it
The defendant complains that the trial court's denial of his motion for mistrial and the subsequent giving of the "Allen charge" denied him his right to a fair trial. An extensive evaluation of the "Allen charge" is necessary for a determination of the merits of the defendant's claim.
The "Allen charge" received the approval of the United States Supreme Court in 1896. Allen v. United States, 164 U.S. 492, 17 S.Ct. 154, 41 L.Ed. 528 (1896). Since that time most state courts and many federal courts of appeal have at some time accepted the use of the "Allen charge" or some modification thereof. See, Annot., 100 A.L.R.2d 177. However, in recent years, a growing number of federal courts of appeal and state courts have expressly disapproved the use of an "Allen charge" and numerous law review commentaries have severely criticized this so-called "dynamite" charge. See, e.g., United States v. Thomas, 146 U.S.App.D.C. 101, 449 F.2d 1177 (1971); United States v. Fioravanti, 412 F.2d 407 (3rd Cir. 1969), cert, denied Panaccione v. United States, 396 U.S. 837, 90 S.Ct. 97, 24 L.Ed.2d 88 (1969); United States v. Brown, 411 F.2d 930 (7th Cir. 1969), cert, denied 396 U.S. 1017, 90 S.Ct. 578, 24 L.Ed.2d 508 (1970); Fields v. State, 487 P.2d 831 (Alaska 1971); State v. Thomas, 86 Ariz. 161, 342 P.2d 197 (1959); State v. Randall, 137 Mont. 534, 353 P.2d 1054 (1960); State v. Garza, 185 Neb. 445, 176 N.W.2d 664 (1970); State v. Marsh, 260 Or. 416, 490 P.2d 491 (1971); Commonwealth v. Spencer, 442 Pa. 328, 275 A.2d 299 (1971); State v. Ferguson, 84 S.D. 605, 175 N.W.2d 57 (1970); Note, The Allen Charge: Recurring Problems and Recent Developments, 47 N.Y.U.L.Rev. 296 (1972); Comment, The Allen Charge: Dead Law a Long Time Dying, 6 U. San Francisco L.Rev. 326 (1972).
Many of the numerous jurisdictions which have banned the use of the "Allen charge" have made exhaustive analyses of the effect of such a charge on a deadlocked jury and the reasons for abolition of it advanced by opponents of the charge. An examination of the charge given in the instant case convinces us that it contains many of the offensive elements which courts in other jurisdictions and legal scholars have found to militate in favor of the abolition of such charges. We disapprove the use of the modified "Allen charge" in the instant case and reverse the defendant's conviction and sentence because of its use. In addition, we henceforth ban the use of the "Allen charge" and of any coercive modification thereof in the courts of Louisiana.
The first paragraph of the substantive part of the charge emphasizes that there must, "sooner or later," be a disposition of the case. The court focuses on the lack of any basis for believing that the case could later be tried better by a more intelligent, more impartial or more competent jury, unmistakably indicating to the lay jury that if the case were to end in a mistrial it would definitely have to be tried again. The tenor of such instructions, in
Next we note that while giving lip service to the view that no juror is requested to surrender his conscientious convictions, the trial court minimized the effect of this by saying that "[i]t is unnecessary to add * * *" that statement to its charge. The trial court's pronouncement, like so many others which appear in the charge, clearly indicates that the general principles which govern jury deliberations are undermined and weakened when an "Allen charge" is given in response to notice that the jury has failed to reach a verdict and considers itself deadlocked. Each time a general principle applicable to deliberations is stated, it is modified by a remark apparently calculated to render the desirability of reaching a verdict foremost in the jurors' minds.
In the course of giving its instruction, the trial court admonished the jurors that if a majority favor conviction, the minority should consider whether their doubts are reasonable, since they make no effective impression upon the minds of "* * * so many equally honest, equally intelligent fellow jurors. * * * " Likewise, the court instructed that if a majority or a lesser number favor acquittal, the other jurors should ask themselves whether they do not have reason to doubt the correctness of a judgment not concurred in "* * * by many of their fellow jurors. * * * " (Emphasis here and elsewhere supplied.) This portion of the charge we find untenable on two counts. First, such a charge virtually insures jury confusion; it urges those favoring conviction or acquittal to discount their views if they are in the minority or in a bare majority. Thus, the instruction is clearly an attempt to avoid the coercive effect of admonition of only the minority and to achieve a balanced charge. Such a charge is so difficult to comprehend that, as indicated in United States v. Fioravanti, supra, it is "* * * an invitation to a frolic with Alice in Wonderland." Second, by framing the charge in such a way as to encourage majority consideration of minority views only when the minority view is held "* * * by many of their fellow jurors, * * *" the court's charge fails in its balancing attempt and in effect urges conformity with majority (or near majority) views, clearly discrediting the positions of members of the minority if the minority is less than substantial. "* * * When efforts to secure a verdict from the jury reach the point that a single juror may be coerced into surrendering views conscientiously entertained, the jury's province is invaded * * *." United States v. Thomas, supra, at 1181.
Although the language of the supplemental instructions was not expressly coercive, we find applicable the following quotation from State v. Rodman, 208 La. 523, 23 So.2d 204 (1945). In that decision this Court reversed a defendant's conviction because the trial court expressed to a reportedly deadlocked jury that it would not accept a mistrial, stating:
In disapproving the use of the modified "Allen charge" in this case and in prohibiting the future use of a verbatim "Allen charge" or any modification which contains the coercive elements we have discussed in this opinion, we note that the Louisiana courts have functioned adequately for the eighty years since the United States Supreme Court's decision in Allen without apparent resort to the coercive method inherent in that charge. We do not believe that the use of such a coercive procedure should be approved now, at a time when jurisprudential and scholarly disapproval appears to approach universality.
Recognizing that there will be times when a court may wish to give supplemental instructions after the jury has retired, we express our approval of the guidelines set forth in the American Bar Association Standards Relating to Trial by Jury (Approved Draft 1968), insofar as they are applicable in our state, where unanimous verdicts are not required in certain classes of cases. See State v. Marsh, supra, 490 P.2d at 503. In section 5.4, the Standards set forth guidelines denominated (a)(i) through (a)(v), to which a trial court should adhere if it wishes to give further instructions upon its determination that the jury has been unable to agree. A determination of when such supplemental instructions shall be given is still in the discretion of the trial court, La.C.Cr.P. art. 775, subject to this Court's review upon an allegation that there has been an abuse of that discretion. See the Official Commentary to Section 5.4(b) of the ABA Standards, cited supra.
In disapproving the "Allen charge" and its many variants we attempt to insure that the Court will not become enmeshed in the difficulties which arise in the administration of justice as a result of the existence and use of such a procedure. In State v. Thomas, supra, a case which involved the use of a coercive jury charge which was a modification of the "Allen charge," the Supreme Court of Arizona noted:
Notwithstanding our finding of reversible error in Assignment of Errors No. 8 dealing with the modified "Allen charge," we feel that another issue raised on this appeal which may arise on retrial requires brief attention. Assignment of Errors No. 3 complains that the trial court improperly curtailed the defendant's cross-examination of a State's witness, the victim's mother. While we do not determine the merit of this claim, we note that the issue presents a possible violation of the defendant's Sixth Amendment right to cross-examination
For the reasons assigned, the defendant's conviction and sentence are reversed and the case is remanded for a new trial.
SANDERS, C. J., dissents with written reasons.
SUMMERS, J., dissents and assigns reasons.
MARCUS, J., dissents for reasons assigned by SANDERS, C. J.
SANDERS, Chief Justice (dissenting).
After closing argument, the jury retired to deliberate. Approximately one and one-half hours later, the jury returned to the courtroom and reported that it had been unable to agree on a verdict. The trial judge asked if it would be helpful if he gave additional instructions. A jury indicated that additional instructions would be helpful. At this point, defense counsel moved for a mistrial. The judge overruled the motion for a mistrial and gave additional instructions.
The first error in the majority opinion is in labelling the foregoing instructions to the jury as the "Allen charge." See Allen v. United States, 164 U.S. 492, 17 S.Ct. 154, 41 L.Ed. 528 (1896). If the instructions are to be compared to the charge considered in Allen v. United States, they could be accurately described as a substantial modification of that charge.
In Sanders v. United States, 415 F.2d 621 (5th Cir. 1969), cert. denied 397 U.S. 976, 90 S.Ct. 1096, 25 L.Ed.2d 271, the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals approved a charge almost identical to the one given here, holding:
The American Bar Association Standards Relating to Trial By Jury § 5.4 approves a repeated instruction to a jury which has been unable to agree covering the following subjects:
"* * *
* * *"
The present charge, in my opinion, does not go beyond the subject matter approved in the American Bar Association Standards. In any event, the reversal of the present conviction because of the charge is contrary to the overwhelming weight of authority in the United States. See Annot., 100 A.L.R.2d 177, 182-184; 76 Am.Jur.2d, Trial, § 1063, pp. 57-58.
Article 808 of the Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure contemplates the giving of further charges after the jury has begun its deliberations. Two major limitations apply to supplemental charges. The trial judge may not comment upon the facts of the case. LSA-C.Cr.P. Art. 806. Nor may the trial judge coerce the jurors into agreeing on a verdict. See State v. Rodman, 208 La. 523, 23 So.2d 204 (1945).
Apart from these major limitations, the giving of a supplemental charge to a jury stressing the responsibility of jurors rests within the sound discretion of the trial court.
I find no abuse of discretion on the part of the trial judge.
For the reasons assigned, I respectfully dissent.
SUMMERS, Justice (dissenting).
I dissent for the reasons assigned by the Chief Justice.