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A verdict is final if (1) the deliberations are over, (2) the result is announced in open court, and (3) the jury is polled and no dissent is registered.
John Sennett White and John Michael Wilson appeal their convictions on charges of possession with intent to distribute cocaine and conspiracy to commit the same offense on several grounds. White and Wilson first raise several interrelated issues pertaining to the jury verdict. First they argue that the jury's initial verdict finding them both guilty of simple possession on Count 1 was final at the time announced and could not be reconsidered. They also argue that the verdict on the lesser included offense on Count 1 precluded a guilty verdict on Count 2 -conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute. Finally they argue that in any event, the subsequent verdict on Count 2 was flawed because the district court refused to give a lesser included instruction on that count.
Was the jury's initial verdict finding both White and Wilson guilty of simple possession on Count 1 final at the time announced and could not be reconsidered?
The court reversed and remanded as to the possession conviction and otherwise affirmed. After the jury returned a verdict of guilty on a lesser-included offense of the possession charge but no verdict on the conspiracy charge, the trial court sent them back to deliberate further on the conspiracy charge. However, the jury reconsidered their verdict on the possession charge as well, which was approved by the trial court. Defendants were found guilty on each of the original counts. Once the jury's original verdict was accepted on the possession count, the trial court was precluded from allowing further deliberations on that count. The fact that no verdict was rendered on the conspiracy count did not affect the finality of the verdict on the possession count because partial verdicts were allowed.