Tuesday, August 09, 2005

A Day Late and a Dollar Short

According to the Los Angeles Times, two "guilt" stricken jurors have now decided it's never too late to tell the truth. Therefore, they have now given two month post trial interviews claiming while they felt Michael Jackson guilty all along, they nevertheless both voted 14 times "not guilty" when it really counted.

The Times article notes:

Two of the 12 jurors who acquitted Michael Jackson of child-molestation charges said Monday that they were pressured to do so by other jurors and now regret their decision.

The jurors — Eleanor Cook and Ray Hultman — made their statements to interviewer Rita Cosby on cable network MSNBC. "People just wouldn't take their blinders off long enough to really look at all the evidence that was there," said Hultman, 62, of Santa Maria, Calif., where the trial was held.

As are a number of other jurors, both Hultman and Cook, 79, are planning to write books about their five months on the high-profile case. Cook's will be titled "Guilty as Sin, Free as a Bird" and Hultman's will be called "The Deliberator," according to Larry Garrison, who said he will help co-write both projects.

Garrison said neither book has a publisher. But Cook plans to share any profits with the charity Feed the Children, Garrison said.

Asked by Cosby whether their statements were motivated by money, both jurors said no.

"I'm speaking out now because I believe it's never too late to tell the truth," Cook said.
Never too late to tell the truth? Jurors are sworn at the begining of the trial, even before trial to tell the truth to the lawyers and judge. They are obligated and sworn to deliberate truthfully, and to render a true, honest and accurate verdict based on the evidence introduced at trial. The time to tell the truth, was at the time Judge Melville asked this jury for their verdict, not several months and book deals, and television interviews later.

Jurors Cook and Hultman now claim they were pressured by the other jurors to acquit Michael Jackson:

In their TV appearance, Hultman and Cook tried to distance themselves from the jury's decision to find Jackson not guilty, which was reached after more than six days of deliberations.

"They're the ones that let a pedophile go," Cook said. "We didn't."

Hultman speculated that a number of witnesses who offered testimony favorable to Jackson were paid off or otherwise influenced improperly — an allegation that Mesereau vigorously denied.

Hultman pointed in particular to the testimony of Deborah Rowe, Jackson's ex-wife, who stunned prosecutors when she had nothing but good things to say about the singer's parenting skills. From the outset of deliberations, the pair said, they and one other juror — Katharina Carls of Santa Maria — argued that Jackson was guilty. They said their fellow jurors refused to compromise and that a couple of them were "star-struck."

After the verdict was announced, all 12 jurors and eight alternates appeared at a news conference, giving the impression of people who respected one another and who had worked out their differences in a mature way. But the reality was far different, according to Hultman and Cook. When the group finally arrived at their verdict, Cook said, "the air reeked of hatred. And people were angry. I just felt that they could turn on me any minute and there wasn't anything I could do about it."

In their televised interview, the pair provided few specifics of the intimidation they allege. However, they said that the foreman, Paul J. Rodriguez of Santa Maria, called Cook inflexible early in the deliberations and threatened to ask the judge to remove her from the panel.

This view was contradicted by fellow juror Susan Drake:

The jurors' contention that they were coerced to vote not guilty was disputed by fellow panelist Susan Drake, 51, who was reached at her Santa Ynez home on Monday night.

Drake said that during deliberations, Hultman and Cook "were clear in expressing their feeling he might be guilty but totally clear that the evidence wasn't there and reasonable doubt prevailed."

She said that discussions in the jury room were thoughtful and courteous, hardly the intimidating environment her colleagues discussed on television.

"We would ring the bell if more than one person was talking and we would refer to the evidence and talk one at a time and present evidence we thought was appropriate," she said.

Drake also defended the jury forman:

Rodriguez could not be reached for comment Monday night. However, Drake defended him, saying the foreman was "very calm" and welcomed debate.

I find it incredible that Judge Melville would have allowed any such intimidation during this trial. I have tried a case in front of Judge Melville, and have appeared in his courtroom numerous times on various matters on behalf of clients over the last 13 years.

Judge Melville is the consumate jurist. Based on my experience in his courtroom, and from reading press accounts of this trial, I am confident that any juror, witness, court staff, or attorney who approached Judge Melville with any problem about any aspect of this case, he would have taken immediate and appropriate action.

Based on the evidence the jury had to consider in this trial, I felt Michael Jackson was guilty; however, the time for truth, Ms. Cook and Mr. Hultman, was at the time you were polled under oath for your true and accurate jury verdict. Now, is not the time, and the press is not the place for this after acquired truth. You have further tarnished our judicial and jury system with your untimely and innapropriate antics.


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