This Comment considers the concept of a jury inquiry and concludes that, with a mandatory jury inquiry rule, judges will ensure that the public ends of justice are met before a mistrial is declared. Part II of this Comment examines the United States v. Razmilovic trial to give a concrete example of how a jury inquiry would have prevented a hastily declared mistrial. Part III.A examines the circuit trend regarding the definition of "manifest necessity." Toward the end of the 1970s, many circuits began to opine that jury inquiries were important when attempting to determine whether there was manifest necessity, especially where juries were apparently deadlocked. Part III.B demonstrates how the trend has solidified, in some circuits, into a mandatory rule that requires a judge to inquire into the status of the jury prior to declaring a mistrial. Part III.C also considers cases from circuits that have rejected the mandatory rule and examines the rationale behind such decisions. Part IV looks into the practicality of jury inquiries. Part IV.A asks whether a mandatory jury inquiry rule should be limited to only multiple defendant cases. Part IV.B considers the form that the rule should take: whether the inquiry should be performed individually or collectively and whether in open court or out of court. Part IV.C sets forth the instruction that a trial judge should use in conducting the inquiry. And Part IV.D once more sets forth the language of the rule as it should be written in the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. Part V concludes by revisiting the Razmilovic case and reconsidering the trial as if a mandatory jury inquiry rule had been in effect.
Missy Mordy, Dodging Mistrials with a Mandatory Jury Inquiry Rule, 32 SEATTLE U. L. REV. 971 (2009).