A Kansas man’s felony convictions were thrown out Friday because the judge fell asleep during his trial.
The Kansas Court of Appeals on Friday ordered a new trial for Daquantrius S. Johnson, who had been found guilty in 2014 of being a felon in possession of a firearm, aggravated assault and criminal discharge of a firearm.
The court found that Johnson was entitled to a new trial because Sedgwick County District Judge Ben Burgess had fallen asleep during trial testimony.
“We see no option other than granting Johnson a new trial for such an error,” the court ruled.
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A juror had noticed that the judge was sleeping and brought it to the attention of the court’s bailiff, according to Friday’s ruling.
“The juror asked the bailiff whether Johnson could have a fair trial,” according to the ruling.
The bailiff passed the comment on to the judge, who addressed the jury later.
“You are the trier of facts. I decide what evidence you will hear and what instructions you will receive,” the judge told jurors. “I don't believe during the course of this trial … there were any objections raised that I had to make rulings on that would have been affected by my nodding off.”
Burgess asked Johnson’s attorney if he wanted to request a mistrial and the attorney declined the offer.
Despite that, Johnson was able to raise the issue on appeal.