Thursday, October 02, 2008

Juror Intimidation: Our Dirty Little Secret

Appears a jury in Miami is now crying foul over a conviction in the high profile "Joe Cool" murder case. The story is here.

Two jurors, of course after the verdict, said they felt "coerced, browbeaten and harassed during the five days of deliberations and finally voted to convict Hialeah security guard Guillermo Zarabozo, 20, of lesser charges -- but now they want to undo their guilty votes."

Good job, way to fulfill your oath. Both of them should be sanctioned by the court.

''I want to take back my vote to convict. I'm just sick over this whole thing. I think there has been a great miscarriage of justice, and I need to correct it,'' Venora Gray, 51, said.

Venora, how about telling the judge DURING deliberations, before you ruined a guy's life?

''No one in that jury room knew those were such serious charges,'' said Gray, a waitress from North Miami, who years ago served as a juror in another murder trial and convicted the defendant. ``There was no way I would have voted on that if I had known.''

Known what? The ridiculously large marble filled courtroom, the seal on the wall that said "UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT," neither of those things led you to believe that the charges were serious?

A second juror also told The Miami Herald that she, too, wanted to withdraw her vote to convict.

''I still believe Zarabozo is not guilty. The government's case did not convince me he killed those people,'' she said.

But hey, what's a couple guilty verdicts mixed in with a deadlock on other charges?

The jurors said "they may have given in on those firearm charges because they felt 'intimidated to convict' by a ''bully juror'' who kept complaining 'he had a life and 11 kids' that he needed to get back to."

"Every time we spoke up, he would attack us and yell `Guilty, guilty, guilty!' and slam his hand on the table,' Gray said."

Other jurors said they stood by as the intimidation grew worse. By the final day of deliberations they could take no more, she said.

''I just wanted out of there,'' Gray said.

Ms. Gray, so did the defendant.

Judge Paul Huck agreed to hear arguments on that issue from both sides, but my guess is the ruling will be, in legal terms "too bad, so sad."


Brian Tannebaum is a criminal defense lawyer in Miami, Florida practicing in state and federal court. Read his free ebook The Truth About Hiring A Criminal Defense Lawyer. To learn more about Brian and his firm, Tannebaum Weiss, please visit www.tannebaumweiss.com

Share/Save/Bookmark