Attorneys say criminal cases ending in mistrials are becoming more common

A new trial for Davenport Civil Rights commissioner Latrice Lacey on domestic abuse assault charges is set for June 17th,2019. That's after the jury deadlocked last month, ending in a mistrial. Lacey's case follows similar verdicts in two other high profile cases in the area.

The case of Annette Cahill in Muscatine County ended in a mistrial. In 2018, Stanley Liggins in Scott County ended in a mistrial. Liggins was tried again and found guilty this month, but Cahill will return to court in September. Rock Island County States Attorney, John McGehee, and Scott County States Attorney, Mike Walton, say mistrials by hung juries are becoming more common.

"It seems like the hung juries are more common the last couple of years," Walton said. "It's difficult, because you want a conclusion. You feel very strongly about a case and put a lot of work into a case. It can take one juror to cause a hung jury."

A hung jury in a criminal case is when all 12 jurors can't come to a unanimous decision.

"You need all 12," Walton said. "It can take one person, for whatever reason, to hang up a criminal trial."

"Most mistrials are juries, McGehee said. "It can be a judge too ,but usually it;s a jury."

Both attorneys mentioned social media as a reason for mistrial spikes.

"People are more individual and stick to their opinions, rather than seek a consensus," Walton said.

"There's much more on social media," McGehee said. "There's much more discussion about what goes on in the courtroom. "It's harder to get a juror who hasn't heard something about the case."

Both say another reason for cases ending in mistrials are unrealistic expectations.

"We don't necessarily have all the tools you see on television," McGehee said. "That's Hollywood."

"We call that the CSI effect," Walton said. "People have very high expectations that there is some sort of super computer or magic evidence."

Trials held in criminal courts are expensive, each cost is based on each case.

"It's a lot of money," McGehee said.

The decision to declare a mistrial is not an easy one to make.

"They are very hesitant to declare a mistrial," McGehee said.

Walton says they a necessary to a fair trial.

Scott County Judicial Clerk, Holly Swafford, told News 8, in the last 5 years, Scott County has seen roughly 30-35 cases end in mistrial.

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