As reported by The Belleville News-Democrat, a recent double murder case in St. Clair County, Illinois ended in mistrial due to a hung jury. It turned out that the holdout juror, Charmaine B., has a pending misdemeanor charge against her that was overlooked during the juror selection process. Given that the charge stems from an incident in which B. allegedly struck a relative of the murder suspect, it may indicate that she was not fit to be an impartial juror. Had the background check on B. been more thorough, a hung jury could perhaps have been avoided in the murder case.
Prosecutors say that they overlooked the charge against B. because it was listed under a misspelling of the juror’s true name. However the date of birth on the record matched the juror, and the correct spelling of her name was also present. Most people would have assumed that the record belonged to the juror.
Had the prosecution used a tool such as the US AliasSEARCH from Blinkx, they would have had a better chance of uncovering this important criminal record.
Such a background is set up to find all known aliases using a social security number trace and then search for and return public criminal records that are matches for the primary and alias names. This includes maiden names, misspellings, and other aliases. It is then up to the recipient of the background check report to review the records and determine if they really do belong to the individual in question. Returning all close matches helps ensure that no records are missed during the background check process due to errors in the original records or in files of various reporting agencies.
Prosecutors also say B. should have disclosed the charge against her during the juror selection process. However, one of the main reasons background checks exist is because people are not always forthcoming with all details about their past, especially when criminal records are involved. B. may face charges for her failure to disclose the pending case against her, but this leaves the question open if the the prosecutors should have conducted a more thorough background check.