Leslie Turk

'Allen' charge likely grounds in Patel appeal

by Leslie Turk

Although Lafayette cardiologist Mehmood Patel's attorneys aren't talking about their grounds for appeal -- Patel was convicted earlier this week on 51 counts of health care fraud and faces up to 10 years in prison -- The Advocate surmises they will raise the "Allen" charge along with the court's denial of a change of venue.

Late Monday evening, U.S. District Judge Tucker Melancon used the Allen charge when he asked the deadlocked jury to continue its deliberations. The jury broke for the evening but returned Tuesday and rendered a guilty verdict later that afternoon. According to The Advocate:

The second set of instructions is known as an Allen charge, but is often called the “dynamite charge” because it tends to sway deadlocked jurors into finding a defendant guilty or not guilty rather than remaining hung, which would result in a mistrial. Essentially, an Allen charge states the following: That the trial has been expensive in time, effort, money and emotional strain to both the defense and prosecution and that unless the jurors reach a verdict, the case would have to be left open and possibly tried again.

The Advocate noted that a University of Central Florida study of 600 federal appeals cases found that juries given an Allen charge reached verdicts on average in less than four hours. According to the paper, the study also found that defense attorneys often appeal cases where a quick verdict was reached following an Allen charge. In those cases, 24 percent of the convictions in federal trials were reversed in full or in part.