12 March 2004

From "Hail to the Dragon Slayer" by Arthur A. Lemann III:
As it was, [the trial] lasted for nineteen weeks. Toward the end, we started receiving good vibes from the twelfth juror, an expressive young lady who was doing everything but winking at us. Then one day Judge Sear abruptly halted the proceedings and sent the jury home early. We were called into chambers and instructed to return in two hours. Oddly, we were told to return via the judges' private elevator in the courthouse basement. We were also instructed not to discuss this cloak and dagger plan with anyone. Slim had to lead Mike Fawer out of chambers before he twisted himself into orbit.

Upon our return, we were ushered into a closed courtroom. and on the witness stand before us sat a man with a paper bag over his head. "What the fuck is this about," Mike whispered as he began to quake again. Judge Sear informed us that an FBI undercover agent, the man with the paper bag over his head, coincidentally had been in a cocktail lounge when he had overheard the twelfth juror say the government's case was weak. Of course, the government was now moving to disqualify her. Mike orbited.

At least we would be given the opportunity to cross-examine the man with the paper bag over his head and, desperately trying to compose ourselves, we were about to embark on this strange new experience when suddenly loud pounding came from the locked courtroom doors. Two news reporters were demanding access. Judge Sear became apoplectic. He demanded to know who had violated the secrecy order. We all proclaimed our innocence. Upon questioning the news reporters through closed doors, the Judge learned that while they had been eating at the Bon Ton the reporters had spotted Al Winters, with his six-foot, six-inch, two hundred fifty pound frame, crossing Magazine Street with a man with a paper bag over his head! Big Al, mostly a drug and gun man, had acted too quickly.

Still without reporters (and almost without Big Al). we commenced cross-examining the man with the paper bag over his head. The tale became even more bizarre. Admitting that the encounter with the twelfth juror had not been his only one. the man with the paper bag over his head incredibly claimed that he had seen her unexpectedly on other nights in other barrooms, one of which was located clear across town. This had been an undercover operation all right, one designed to disqualify the twelfth juror. When the defense engages in this kind of conduct, it's called jury tampering. Most of us were shell-shocked. Carlos [the Defendant], the calmest person in the courtroom, watched with resigned bemusment.

The twelfth juror finally was brought into the closed courtroom and told of the government's accusations. She was devastated. She denied having made any such statements, and swore her impartiality. Judge Sear denied the disqualification motion and, instead, allowed us to decide whether she should continue to serve. We decided to keep her. but undoubtedly the government's outrageous conduct irretrievably intimidated this juror.
This is an interesting book. At times it is downright strange. For instance, at one point the author describes how he wears a dark suit at the beginning of the trial and a progressively lighter one each day until he is wearing a white one at the end of the trial. However, most of it is made up of war stories which are interesting (although the dragon-slayer metaphor gets old pretty quickly). If you are a criminal defense attorney I think you will find this book worth reading.

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