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Judge declares mistrial following statements to jury

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Clovis Magistrate Judge Richard Hollis has declared a mistrial following statements he made to a jury earlier this month.

Hollis signed the order for mistrial Wednesday in a case of misdemeanor battery charges against a Clovis man. Public Defender Chandler Blair filed a motion alleging the judge’s statements on July 1 in open court prejudiced and tainted the jury.

According to Blair's motion:

“At the conclusion of jury selection, Judge Hollis made an appreciation speech to the panel, and in the speech he stated, ‘it is really easy to find yourself in that (chair) (specifying the Defendant’s chair), and who knows, you could be part of that one percent where, hey, they actually got the wrong guy.’ The statement conveyed to the jurors tainted the jury panel.”

A spokesperson for Hollis said Friday the judge wouldn’t be making any comment about the case.

The mistrial order Hollis signed notes, “An improper comment was made to the jury panel. ... Defendant’s constitutional right to a fair and impartial jury is prejudiced by the comment.”

The order also said the case would be reset for jury selection on the August docket, when a new jury panel could be selected.

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