Tuesday, August 26, 2014

COA – Napier. v. Comm -- Palpable error to allow jury access to prosecutor's "unclean" laptop in deliberation room

Tracy Napier v. Commonwealth, COA, 2012-CA-1672, Rendered 8/15/14, reversed and remanded, to be published – 

Mr. Napier was convicted of First-Degree Assault for shooting Carl Holbrook after a confrontation on Mr. Napier’s driveway. The Court of Appeals reversed for a new trial because the trial court allowed the jury to rehear a police interview with Paul Wooten, Holbrook’s cousin, who was present when the shooting occurred. 

Palpable error occurred because the trial court allowed the jury to rehear the interview using the prosecutor’s “unclean” laptop in the privacy of the deliberation room. “Unclean” in this case means not restricting the jury from the accessing the prosecutor’s laptop data, including data related to the in-progress trial, not admonishing the jury not to access the information, and not prohibiting internet access. 

Robert Yang represented Mr. Napier on appeal.