Judge Declares Mistrial During Jury Selection In University of Montana Rape Case [YouTube]
One juror who revealed too much information during voir dire caused Judge John Larson to declare a mistrial in the case of a University of Montana student accused of rape.
Timothy Schwartz, 19, is accused of sexual intercourse without consent in an incident that allegedly occurred in a UM dorm room on February 16, 2014. Schwartz's attorney Lisa Kaufman told KGVO News that a potential juror revealed too much information while being questioned during the selection process on Monday.
"One of the jurors inadvertently told the judge and the other 70 people in the courtroom that she had participated in a previous trial regarding my client, and so the judge had no choice but to declare a mistrial," Kaufman said. "Every accused person comes into the trial with a clean slate, and jurors are not usually allowed to know about any previous criminal history, and so the prejudice to the other jurors is so great that it was impossible to guarantee a fair trial."
Kaufman said there is a legal term for what happened in District Court on Monday.
"We refer to that as the 'ringing of the bell' so the appearance of prejudice is already there, so you can't un-ring the bell," she said.
When he was arrested for the alleged rape, Schwartz was on probation for another crime committed in Gallatin County.
Kaufman said the process of selecting another jury for Schwartz's rape trial will have to start from scratch.