During a recent manslaughter trial, an alternate juror receives an inappropriate text from a friend who wants to discuss the case. Rather than respond to the text, the juror turns the phone over to the judge who informs the juror that he better stop "....Or there will be consequences." This is the first time that I have ever heard of a judge taking such direct action to prevent a potential juror misconduct issue. The juror, after vetting by both attorneys, was allowed to return to the trial.
A federal appellate judge has expressed misgivings about a lower court judge's contact with jurors during Chicago's highest profile mob trial in decades — one credited with helping to weaken organized crime.
The judge commented Monday as attorneys for convicted reputed mobsters argued for a do-over of the 2007 Family Secrets trial before the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
Jurors five years ago convicted reputed mob boss James Marcello and others of racketeering conspiracy that included 18 murders.
Appellate Judge Diane Wood said at Monday's hearing she's concerned by accounts that trial Judge James Zagel seemed to have “private chats” with jurors that didn't become part of the official trial record.
Defense attorney Francis Lipuma singled out how Zagel dismissed one juror without consulting the trial lawyers.