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November 3, 2008

Another appellate issue for Senator Stevens?

The latest legal news, as detailed in this CNN report, surrounding Senator Ted Stevens' trial and conviction is both comical and puzzling.  Here are the basics:

A juror who vanished during Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens' corruption trial told the judge Monday she lied about her father dying and flew to California for a horse race.

Marian Hinnant was identified as juror No. 4 during the trial. She disappeared while the jury was trying to decide whether Stevens was guilty on seven felony counts.

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan delayed deliberations because Hinnant told officials her father had died and she had to fly to California. Sullivan replaced her a few days later when she wouldn't return telephone calls. The jury convicted Stevens.

Hinnant admitted Monday that her father hadn't died and she was at the Breeders' Cup in Arcadia, California.

Though Senator Stevens clearly has no shortage of issues for raising in any appeal of his convictions, I cannot help but wonder if this quirky juror might present another opportunity for his defense team to develop arguments that might help prevent Senator Stevens from ever serving any time for his (alleged?) crimes.

November 3, 2008 at 01:40 PM | Permalink


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I certainly am no expert on this type of situation but once a juror has been replaced the new jury is supposed to start deliberations all over again. If that is so, I don't so how anything she can say is relevant, unless she has evidence that the jury pool was tainted in some way besides her.

BTW, you left out the most important detail: she's a paralegal.

Posted by: Daniel | Nov 3, 2008 3:14:20 PM

Truth, justice, and the american way!!

Posted by: jojo | Nov 3, 2008 3:38:27 PM

The fact that a juror with an absurd sense of entitlement is throwing a wrench in this case is incredibly ironic since it was Sen. Stevens' sense of entitlement that got him into this mess. This juror thought it perfectly ok to lie in order to skirt their obligation to jury duty because they thought they were perfectly entitled to skip out for a horse race. In very much the same way, Sen. Stevens probably didn't bat an eyelash at accepting lavish gifts in exchange for political influence because he must have thought he deserved them by way of making it all the way to the senate. This is the sort of false entitlement that people like Anna Nicole Smith are supposed to feel when they frivolously fight for over a decade in disputing a set of well-executed estate planning documents. This is not the sort of thing we should ever see from elected officials, or from a member of a "jury of our peers", I would like to think that one of my "peers" would stick it out until the end of my trial and not lie about the death of a loved one so they could play hookie.

Posted by: belicoso | Nov 3, 2008 6:40:50 PM

The scenario might have worked out differently. Suppose the horse race and the plane ticket was set for the next day. The jury has been deliberating for several days and the horse juror is the sole hold out. She knuckles under and goes with the flow so that she can get down that first bet on the daily double. Stevens goes to prison because of the daily double.

Posted by: mpb | Nov 4, 2008 5:36:36 AM

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