Man Receives 2-Year Sentence for Perjury During Jury Selection

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Nov 16, 2012

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Gavel and JurorA potential juror in Massachusetts has received a two year prison sentence for misleading the trial judge about his relationship with the parties to the crime. When 23-year old Jonathon G. Ngarambe was called for jury duty for a gang-rape case, he told the judge and prosecutor that he did not know any of the parties to the crime. After investigation, he admitted to lying to the judge during the jury selection process, and he now faces a stiff penalty.

Mr. Ngarambe aroused suspicion by making eye contact with a defendant during the jury selection process.  Prosecutors followed up on him, and found that two of the defendants claimed that they knew Mr. Ngarambe personally. After coming under investigation, he admitted to knowing at least two of the defendants on trial, and having contact with the victim, who was his former high school classmate. With his lie revealed, Mr. Ngarambe pled guilty to perjury and received his two-year sentence.

Perjury is Lying Under Oath

Perjury is a willful act of dishonesty while under oath, and can include any verbal or written statement. The offense is considered serious because deceit can unfairly influence results in criminal proceedings, which weakens the power of American courts. In order to administer criminal justice, courts rely on the integrity of witnesses, attorneys, judges, and juror. As such, every party to a trial is sworn in to testify truthfully or face the penalty of perjury. Even though potential jurors have not yet heard the facts of the case or put into a position to influence the outcome, they face perjury charges if they mislead the court.

It’s Important to Tell the Truth During Jury Selection

When seating a jury, the Court’s primary concern is finding individuals who are able to offer an unbiased verdict based on the facts of the case. Potential jurors are required to disclose, under oath, any connection they have to the case or to the parties to the crime. During the process of selecting a jury, attorneys and judges ask the jurors a series of questions, and jurors must answer honestly or face perjury charges. Every statement a potential juror makes is under the threat of perjury, and dishonesty can result in criminal punishment.

A Serious Lesson

Courts make it abundantly clear to potential jurors that they are under oath, and the case of Mr. Ngarambe drives home exactly what that means. Although a two-year prison sentence seems severe for misleading a judge during jury selection, consider a court system without such stiff punishment deterring dishonesty in the courtroom. Jurors who have a connection with the parties to a crime cannot make an unbiased decision, which can call the entire justice system into question. Mr. Ngarambe’s case is a cautionary tale warning potential jurors of the consequences of lying to a judge or the attorneys during the jury selection process.

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