The Sun-Times has been all over this.
Just two days after a judge shot down their last attempt, former Gov. George Ryan’s lawyers will appear in court again this morning with what they say is new evidence of improper “outside influence” on the jury that convicted him of corruption.
Ousted juror Evelyn Ezell claims another juror, during deliberations, read aloud from research the juror had conducted on case law.
Some appellate courts have ruled that jurors’ independent research constitutes the kind of “outside influence” that requires courts to throw out convictions and grant defendants new trials. […]
Ezell said another juror brought in a couple of sheets of paper she surmised were reprints of information from the Internet. Reading aloud, the juror said, “A juror can be dismissed for not deliberating in good faith,” Ezell recalled. Then the juror read the section number and other citations for the law or case she was quoting from, Ezell told the Chicago Sun-Times on Thursday.
There is a recent case that seems to come close to this problem. Ed Rosenthal, the self-proclaimed “Guru of Ganja,” just got a new trial.
A three-judge panel of the San Francisco-based appeals court, in overturning the verdict, said a juror had had inappropriate communication with an attorney.
“Juror A” had asked the attorney during trial whether she had to follow the law or could vote her conscience because she suspected Rosenthal was growing marijuana for medicinal uses. The attorney told her she must follow the judge’s instructions to follow federal law or she would get in “trouble.”
“We hold that here the communication was an improper influence upon Juror A’s decision to acquit or convict,” the appeals court wrote.
[Hat tip: RandomActOfKindness]
UPDATE: From a reporter friend:
Judge Pallmeyer got angry today…by her standards, anyway. For me, it’d be called even-keel. She ripped Webb and Co. for continuing to imply there was an anti-George conspiracy on the jury or in her courtroom.
Basically, she gave the feds until Wednesday to respond to Webb’s assertion that Ezell should be brought in and questioned. Ruling to come Thursday.
UPDATE 2: AP:
Former Gov. George Ryan’s trial judge said Friday that she takes seriously a defense claim that legal documents might have been imported into the jury room, bringing improper outside influence on the jurors, and she added that she might order an investigation.
“I do take it as a very serious allegation,” U.S. District Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer told both sides after Ryan’s defense attorneys asked her for permission to interview former juror Evelyn Ezell about her claim that outside legal documents were read to her by another juror.
Ezell has said in numerous media interviews including one with The Associated Press over the past two days that during deliberations a juror brought papers into the jury room.
She said the papers involved the law on when a juror could be dismissed for failing to deliberate in good faith — something she was being accused of by fellow jurors.