Etan Patz Jury Deadlocked, Judge gave them an Allen Charge

Reuters: photo of Etan Patz

After more than two weeks of deliberations, the Jury in People of the State of New York v. Pedro Hernandez had told the Judge that they are deadlocked and cannot reach a unanimous verdict. Under New York law, in a criminal jury trial, a jury must find that the defendant is either guilty or not guilty unanimously. All twelve jurors must agree one way or the other in order for there to be a verdict. If even one juror does not agree as the verdict on any count of the indictment, there cannot be a verdict on that count. A Court can take a partial verdict if all the jurors agree as to some counts but not all the counts, and declare a mistrial as the count or counts that lack a unanimous verdict. If the jury cannot agree as to any count submitted to them, the Court may order a mistrial as to the entire case.

If the Court orders a mistrial, the government has the right to bring the matter for another trial as soon as practical within the rules government speedy trials. Depending on the type of the case, sometimes the government does not retry cases where there was a mistrial because of a hung jury.

Etan Kalil Patz was a six year old child that disappeared in the SoHo neighborhood of lower Manhattan, New York City, on May 25, 1979. His disappearance helped spark the missing children’s movement, including new legislation and various methods for tracking down missing children, such as the milk-carton campaigns of the mid-1980s. Etan was the first ever missing child to be pictured on the side of a milk carton.

In 2010, the case into Patz’s disappearance was reopened by the New York County District Attorney’s office.Pedro Hernandez, was charged and indicted on charges of second-degree murder and first-degree kidnapping based on a confession that he kidnapped and killed Patz. Defense attorneys have argued that Hernandez’s confession is a false confession and that the defendant is mentally ill. There is no evidence other than the confession that ties Mr. Hernandez to the disappearance.

Under Allen v. United States, 164 U.S. 492 (1896), Judge Willey instructed the Jury to continue to deliberate and try to reach a verdict. Once an Allen charge has been read to the Jury, a mistrial is likely to result if a verdict isn’t reached soon and the Jury continues to inform the Court that they are deadlocked.

Read the the Allen charge here here.
New York Deadlock Charge