Fox Wins Federal Conviction Reversal on Appeal Due to Coercive Jury Instruction

January 5, 2021 – Press Releases

Fox Rothschild White-Collar Criminal Defense attorney Brian W. Stolarz won a new trial for former nonprofit executive Patricia Driscoll, who was convicted in 2018 in U.S. District Court on charges of wire fraud and tax evasion.

Stolarz appealed Driscoll’s conviction to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, arguing that the District Court committed several errors at trial, including not granting dismissal or a mistrial based on a Brady violation uncovered during trial and providing multiple coercive anti-deadlock instructions to the jury.

In an opinion filed today, the Circuit Court vacated Driscoll’s conviction on the basis that the anti-deadlock instructions “likely coerced a unanimous verdict.”

Circuit Judge Robert L. Wilkins noted that the jury was deadlocked after 16 hours of deliberation and that it wasn’t until after its members received the instruction that they reached a “swift resolution.”

“Taken together, the instructions in this case had a substantial propensity to coerce a holdout juror into foregoing her conscientiously held convictions in favor of a unanimous verdict,” Judge Wilkins wrote.

Stolarz said he was pleased with the court’s “thorough and well-reasoned opinion.”

“Patricia has maintained her innocence throughout this long road to justice and we will stay on that road as long as it takes,” he said.