Monday, March 2, 2015

KYSC - Martin - Unanimous Verdict

Joseph David Martin v. Commonwealth, Ky. Sup.  Ct., 2/19/15 Affirming in part, Reversing in part, Remanding - to be published

The Court remanded this case, and Mr. Martin’s 580 years sentence,  to the Henry Circuit Court for a new trial for numerous unpreserved unanimous verdict violations.  The Court found that both types of unanimity violations existed in this case; “one borne from indistinguishable instructions” and the “second type of unanimous-verdict violation, which arises when evidence adduced at trial presents the jury with multiple acts by the defendant that may satisfy a single general-verdict instruction.”  The Court held  “all unanimous-verdict violations constitute palpable error resulting in manifest injustice.” 

In addition there was instructional error by the trial court for failing to instruct the jury on the seventy (70) year statutory cap,  however the issue was not reviewable per Martin v. Commonwealth, 409 S.W.3d 340, 346 (Ky. 2013) (A separate case from the instant case) because the issue was not preserved. The Opinion however contained strong language regarding “the judge’s purposeful disregard of the sentencing-cap statute.” 

Jason Apollo Hart  of the Appeals Branch represented Mr. Martin on appeal.