State v. Rollins, 220 N.C. App. 443 (May. 15, 2012)

The trial court’s jury instruction regarding the duty to reach a verdict did not coerce a guilty verdict. The relevant pattern instruction (N.C.P.I.--Crim. 101.35), based on G.S. 15A-1235(a), reads: "All twelve of you must agree to your verdict. You cannot reach a verdict by majority vote. When you have agreed upon a unanimous verdict(s) (as to each charge) your foreperson should so indicate on the verdict form(s)." Here, the trial court instructed: "You must be unanimous in your decision. In other words, all twelve jurors must agree. When you have agreed upon a unanimous verdict, your foreperson may so indicate on the verdict form that will be provided to you." The defendant argued that telling the jurors that they had to agree, rather than that they had to agree to a verdict, caused the jurors to erroneously construe the charge to be a mandatory instruction that a verdict must be reached. Although it concluded that the “pattern instruction more carefully instructs the jury,” the court found that the instruction in this case, when viewed in context, was not coercive of the jury's verdict.