Washington's Supreme Court has thrown out a defendant's aggravated murder conviction because he wasn't present when his lawyers, prosecutors and judge agreed by e-mail to dismiss seven people from his jury pool.
In the 5-4 decision, the justices said criminal defendants have a right to be present at all critical trial stages. But Terrence Irby was not there and was not consulted when his legal team agreed with a suggestion by Skagit County Superior Court Judge John Meyer that certain potential jurors be sent home.
Irby was convicted of beating and stabbing an acquaintance to death in 2005.
The dissenting justices said the dismissal of only one of the jurors was problematic, but they said even that was a harmless mistake. They said the other six were dismissed for hardship reasons, and there was no reason Irby had to be there.