State v. Lee, ___ N.C. App. ___, 789 S.E.2d 679 (Aug. 2, 2016)

rev’d on other grounds, ___ N.C. ___, 811 S.E.2d 563 (Apr. 6, 2018)

The court rejected the defendant’s argument that the trial court committed plain error by requiring a jury to deliberate for an unreasonable length of time. Jury deliberations began at 2:15 pm. At 8:43 pm the jury sent a note indicating that it was deadlocked. Several minutes later, and with defense counsel’s consent, the trial court gave an Allen instruction. At 10:50 pm the trial court returned the jury to the courtroom and requested an update on deliberations. The foreperson indicated that the jury was a lot closer “than the first time.” Both parties agreed to let deliberations resume. The jury returned a verdict at 11:34 pm. The court rejected the defendant’s argument that by allowing the jury to continue deliberations until nearly midnight it violated G.S. 15A-1235(c). When the trial court allowed the jury to continue deliberating at 10:50 pm the statute was not implicated because it no longer appeared that the jury was unable to agree.