Siegelman Attorneys Allege Further Juror Misconduct in Supplemental Motion - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Original Story Published 10:11 a.m. - October 11, 2006

Siegelman Attorneys Allege Further Juror Misconduct in Supplemental Motion

MONTGOMERY, Ala. --- Attorneys for former Governor Don Siegelman have filed a supplemental motion alleging further juror misconduct.  The motion asks to supplement the record on the joint Motion for a New Trial filed earlier by attorneys for Siegelman and Scrushy.

The motion says further information regarding alleged juror e-mails was received by counsel for Siegelman on October 10, 2006 with a postmark of October 7, 2006.

The documents received appear to be a copy of an email from Juror B dated June 25, 2006 at 11:31 p.m. from the same G-mail account for Juror B previously identified.  The e-mail is allegedly addressed to another juror not previously identified.

"The text of this alleged email reads: proud of u. . .

other 6 kounts

most important. . . .

c.u.n..am

The email concludes with Juror B's name," according to the motion.

"If authenticated, this document further demonstrates that Juror B made a practice of conducting one-on-one deliberations outside the presence of other jurors. As such, if authenticated, this document further demonstrates that Governor Siegelman was deprived of his Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial."

In their original New Trial Motion attorneys for the defendants said they were asking for a court order "vacating their convictions and granting them a new trial...because Defendants were denied their Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial before an impartial jury due to jury exposure to extrinsic evidence and jury misconduct."

In an extended interview with wsfa.com, former Governor Don Siegelman says there's no way jurors misunderstood the judge's daily instructions not to communicate with anyone about the case outside the jury room and outside the presence of all 12 jurors.

"You can't have jurors e-mailing back and forth and sending text messages back and forth.  But clearly, I mean this judge's instructions were unambiguous.  They were clear and whether he used the term text message or e-mails or telephone calls or carrier pigeon or written messages. 

I don't think in talking about the standard of what a reasonable person would have understood the judge to have said, I think anybody, even a little less than reasonable, would have understood the judge did not intend for jurors to be sending e-mails or text messages during the deliberations or having any contact with anybody else by any means whatever about this trial.  And if these e-mails are true the judge's order was flat broken."

"I think the judge made it absolutely clear.  I don't think he could have been more clear.  He said it in the morning; he said it at lunch; he said it at the end of the day, I was wondering why he was having to quit saying it frankly, but he said it at every break.  So I don't think, no I think the judge made it absolutely clear he expected them not to have any communications with anybody, by any means whatsoever - by television, radio, newspaper.. unless it was in the jury deliberation room and even then he said if one of them leaves to go to the bathroom don't discuss the case until they come back."

Asked whether a jury should now routinely be told not to email each other as part of the judge's daily jury instructions, Siegelman says, "I think after this case, I think it will be.  Absolutely.  And I think either Judge Fuller will establish that baseline of behavior or I think the 11th Circuit or the U.S. Supreme Court are probably chomping at the bit to get this issue, because this is an important issue in this day of modern communication."

Siegelman says he does not feel it is necessary to sequester the jury in similar cases: 

"I think you bring 12 people into the jury box and you get them to raise their right hand and they take an oath that they will uphold the Constitution of the United States of America including the right to a fair trial and the judge says okay, as part of that, you shall have no communication whatsoever about this case with anybody unless it is in this jury room and all 12 of you are present.  That is very unambiguous.  If somebody violates that oath, and deliberately subverts the Constitution of the United States of America and subverts someone's right to a fair trial by violating the judge's order, I think that's serious business."

Attorneys for Siegelman have also expressed concern that evidence needed for an inquiry may get destroyed prior to any such inquiry, should the judge decide to conduct one.

In their Emergency Motion for Order to Require Preservation of Evidence, attorneys for Siegelman said, "Governor Siegelman has a legitimate concern that the companies providing Internet, email, cell phone, and/or text messaging services to Jurors B and C ...may, during the ordinary course of business, destroy information critical to the Defendants' prior joint motion..."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Feaga previously told wsfa.com that he was confident there was "no error committed during the trial that would entitle them to a new trial or any other appellate relief."  Government attorneys had not had a chance to review the motion when their office was contacted shortly after this morning's filing, but later in the day said they will file their response in motions on Friday.  Siegelman attorney David McDonald had nothing further he wished to say on the issue at this time.

Reported by:  Helen Hammons

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