Another juror dismissed in Jason Young retrial
Posted January 31, 2012
Raleigh, N.C. — A Superior Court judge on Tuesday dismissed a second juror from the high-profile trial of a Wake County man accused of killing his wife.
Judge Donald Stephens said he likely will charge Robert Tobin, who reportedly was overheard discussing the case in a Garner restaurant, with contempt of court.
This is the second juror dismissed from the retrial of Jason Young, who is charged with first-degree murder in the Nov. 3, 2006, beating death of his wife. Michelle Young, 29, was found on the floor of a bedroom in the couple's Wake County home.
Last week, Stephens dismissed another juror, along with a woman in the jury pool, for posting comments about serving on the jury on an Internet message board.
The judge has repeatedly told jurors and potential jurors not to talk about the case or read or watch news accounts of it, including online posts. He has said jurors need not only to be unbiased, they also need to be perceived as unbiased.
William Woodruff, a professor at Campbell University's Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law, said judges might have to issue more contempt charges and change the way they instruct jurors about the dangers of discussing cases publicly.
"There are just more temptations available to the generation today. They're used to communicating. They're used to sharing. They're used to interacting," Woodruff said.
"They just don't stop to think that something's different (about sitting on a jury)," he said. "When something like this happens, it undermines the confidence of people in the integrity of the judicial system."
An alternate juror was moved into Tobin's slot, and prosecutors and defense attorneys plan to choose two more alternate jurors this week. Stephens said he wants four alternates for the case in light of the past week's events.
Young, 37, was charged in December 2009 and initially went to trial in June. Stephens, however, declared a mistrial after jurors couldn't reach a unanimous verdict.
Young testified during that trial and denied any involvement in the crime, saying he was out of town when it happened.
Opening statements for the retrial are scheduled for next Monday.