Question: Does the falling asleep of a juror or judge during trial means that you did not get a fair trial?
Answer: Control and management of the jury are matters generally committed to the trial court’s discretion. To prevail on a claim of juror misconduct through inattentiveness, the defendant must demonstrate that the juror was actually inattentive and that the juror’s inattention resulted in actual prejudice. A juror’s mere falling asleep for a short time does not necessarily constitute a sufficient cause for a new trial absent a convincing explanation as to why the alleged behavior deprived the defendant of his rights. This requires that the defendant demonstrate not only that the juror was actually asleep, but also the duration of the juror’s somnolence as it relates to evidence that the juror may have missed as a result. Even if the judge were to fall asleep, a party must establish prejudice to be entitled to any relief.