Judge declares mistrial because of sleeping juror

Thursday, April 17, 2003

CINCINNATI -- A judge declared a mistrial after a juror fell asleep during the trial of a man facing cocaine charges.

"You have a right to 12 jurors who are awake," Judge Robert Ruehlman of Common Pleas Court told James Toran, 27.

At the request of the defense, Ruehlman dismissed the jurors Tuesday and scheduled a new trial for June 5. Toran could be sentenced up to 21 years in prison if convicted of all charges, including cocaine possession and trafficking.

The prosecution and defense had completed opening statements and a prosecution witness had testified before there was a break in the trial.

A high school student attending the trial with his class asked the judge about the sleeping juror, who had been obscured from the judge's view by another juror in the front row.

Toran was a passenger in a car pulled over by police last year. He jumped out and began shedding clothes and bags of cocaine, authorities allege. Police found $4,900, ammunition shell casings, a scale and drugs in the car.

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