LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - A federal appeals panel has granted a request by a man convicted in a drug case to explore whether the presence of an alternate juror during deliberations made his trial unfair.
The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday ordered a hearing to determine the level of participation the alternate juror had during deliberations that led to Manuel Maldonado Aguilar's conviction.
Maldonado was arrested in Little Rock in 2011 for conspiracy to possess methamphetamine with intent to distribute. He was sentenced to 19-1/2 years.
The appeals court acknowledged that the ruling would intrude on the privacy of the jury but said that's the only way to tell whether the alternate affected the verdict.
The ruling says no one noticed until later that the alternate went into the jury room.
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