State v. Lodzinski

The New Jersey Supreme Court reviewed the Appellate Division’s decision affirming the defendant’s conviction of the first-degree murder of her five-year-old son. She challenged her conviction on two grounds. First, the defendant contended that she was entitled to a judgment of acquittal notwithstanding the verdict under Rule 3:18-2 because the evidence was insufficient. Second, the defendant argued that she was entitled to a new trial under Rule 3:20-1 because the trial court dismissed a juror who contravened its instructions by conducting independent research and replaced that juror with an alternate instead of declaring a mistrial. In a 100-page opinion, a divided New Jersey Supreme Court affirmed. Three Court members found the evidence sufficient, and three members found the evidence insufficient to sustain the murder conviction. The Court unanimously modified the Appellate Division’s holding concerning its characterization of the scope of the evidence that should be considered in reviewing a post-verdict motion for a judgment of acquittal. The Court also unanimously agreed with the Appellate Division that the defendant was not entitled to a new trial because a juror substitution occurred.

Lodzinski