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The Trend Toward Anonymous Juries

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When former congressman William “Cold Cash” Jefferson stood trial in Alexandria last summer sketching the jury was not permitted.  Three decades earlier, at the bribery trial of congressman “Dapper” Dan Flood, the “jury-shot” was a standard among the images an artist was expected to turn out, along with the required wide-shot and head-shots.  What happened?

While forbidding artists to sketch the jury is not the same as juror anonymity it is part of the same trend.  Maryland and Virginia are both currently considering proposals to make all juries anonymous.

The reasons usually given for an anonymous jury are : (1) the defendant’s involvement with organized crime, (2) capacity to harm jurors, (3) interference with judicial process, (4) possibility of a severe sentence, and (5) extensive publicity that could expose jurors to harassment.

At the Oklahoma bombing trial of Timothy McVeigh a wall was built in the courtroom specifically to block the artists’ view of the jurors, which while perhaps excessive (trust us!) was understandable.

On the other hand, why the jury in the “Scooter” Libby trial was anonymous (identified by number only) escapes me.

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Historical note: the jurors in Rep. Dan Flood’s trial voted 11-1 to convict on five bribery counts and three counts of perjury.  There followed a jury tampering investigation in which the only juror to vote for acquittal failed two lie-detector tests, but no further legal action was taken.

Flood entered a guilty plea before the start of his second trial.

More about anonymous juries here.

 

Jefferson Sentenced

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Former congressman William Jefferson stood with his attorney, Robert Trout, his clasped hands resting on the lectern, as Judge Ellis sentenced him to 13 years in prison. Jefferson, 62, infamous for the $90,000. in cold cash found in his freezer made no statement.

WaPo story here.

Jefferson Guilty (but not for “cold cash”)

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The jury in the trial of former Congressman William Jefferson, infamous for the $90,000 in marked bills found in his freezer, returned a verdict late yesterday, the fifth day of their deliberations.  Although Jefferson was found guilty on 11 of 16 counts the jury acquitted on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (note that as of this posting Wikipedia is wrong on FCPA conviction) charge that related to the “cold cash” intended as a bribe to the Nigerian Vice-President.

Times-Picayune story here.

Jefferson ‘Cold Cash’ Trial Begins

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A briefcase ( pictured at left above ) that once contained $100,000., and that former New Orleans Congressman William Jefferson took from an FBI informant and placed in the trunk of his car, sat on a table in front of the podium as Assistant U.S.Attorney Mark Lytle told the jury they would hear “a startling and often disheartening account of public corruption at the highest levels of our government”. The jury was shown photos of foil wrapped bricks of cash concealed in Pillsbury Pie Crust and Boca Burger boxes that were found in the Congressman’s freezer.
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In the defense’s opening statement attorney Robert Trout told the jury that the ex-Congressman “did not take a  bribe…did not solicit a bribe…is not guilty of any of these charges.”

Times-Picayune story here.

Jury Selection for Jefferson Trial

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Former Louisiana Congressman William Jefferson stood before prospective jurors in an Alexandria, Virginia courtroom as his public corruption trial began today. He served nine terms in Congress, but is best known for the $90,000. in marked bills found in his freezer in May 2006.

Times-Picayune story here.

 

Sen. Stevens’ Reversal of Fortune

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In a stunning about-face prosecutors in the trial of Sen. Ted Stevens found themselves subject to criminal contempt proceedings.  As he dismissed the indictment against the former Alaska senator, an outraged Judge Emmett Sullivan appointed a non-government lawyer, Janis, Schuelke & Wechsler partner Henry Schuelke III, to prosecute the prosecutors.
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Nightly News aired the story with sketches, but as usual some of the better drawings are never used. Here’s one of Stevens’ defense attorney Brendan Sullivan addressing the Judge at yesterday’s hearing. Ted Stevens is lightly sketched in the left background.

WaPo story here.