A paralegal employed by defense attorney Carl Oreskovich in Spokane, Washington, has made allegations of improper media exposure by jurors during deliberations, which may lead to a defense motion for a new trial (a 14-day request for extension of time to file said motion has been submitted.)

According to KHQ Right Now, five of the jurors were staying in a hotel during the excessive force trial of former Spokane Police Officer Karl Thompson:

The paralegal said that on the morning of November 1st she went down to the breakfast room and noticed both of the stations were set to Northwest Cable News, and that day, the station included a bottom line ticker on the Thompson trial that included the words “beating death of mentally ill man.”

Jurors were not supposed to be aware of Zehm’s mental health or his innocence, as that was not allowed as evidence into court.  When the paralegal returned to Spokane on Thursday, November 3rd she says she contacted Outpost Media, who handles the storage of the broadcasts for the BELO owned Northwest Cable News.

The paralegal obtained evidence that at least two ticker news tapes about the alleged beating death victim ran during the period the jurors were at the hotel.

One of a paralegal’s many trial duties is to observe the jurors’ activities when possible. In cases where the jury is not sequestered, it is not unusual to see the jurors at the same restaurant where the trial team is having lunch. In this case, the paralegal’s observations in the breakfast room at the hotel may play a key role in whether the defendant gets a new trial, because jurors may have seen evidence about the beating victim via electronic media that they were not supposed to have access to during the trial.

I wonder if the jurors in the hotel would have seen some trial-related news anyway, if their smartphone usage wasn’t monitored during the trial. Do any of you know if the jurors in this trial (or any other recent trial) have had to relinquish their mobile Internet devices while sequestered (or not sequestered)?

Source:  KHQ Right Now

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