Judge calls mistrial in Dolores court

Potential juror in Dolores' first trial in 15 years saw reporter's copy of sheriff's office report

The first jury trial in the town of Dolores for more than 15 years ended in a mistrial Tuesday during jury selection.

The case involves a disorderly conduct charge.

Municipal Judge Jim Shaner called the mistrial after a potential juror admitted that he recently read a sheriff's office report about the incident and then made a comment about it during jury questioning.

"His comment prejudiced the jury pool, and we have to start over," Shaner said.

The jurors were excused, and the trial will be rescheduled.

Dolores Town Hall closed for the case, and staff remade the council chambers into a make-shift courtroom with public seating. Due to limited space, potential jurors, press, and audience members were not separated.

A Dolores Star reporter possessed a copy of the police report, available under public records laws, and was asked by an acquaintance if he could view the document. That person later voiced an opinion about the report in open court. The reporter was unaware the person was a potential juror.

During the two hours of jury questioning, many were excused because they knew the defendant, complainant, witnesses, judges, and lawyers; were familiar with the case; or had a definite opinion about it.