Recent Broward Law Blog Features

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Shades of Broward: LA Juror Charged With Perjury

It has been four years since Broward County juror Stacey Forbes was sentenced by Judge Eileen O’Connor to a four month contempt sentence for failing to disclose during the voir dire that he had been arrested before.

Her attorney at the time opined that the jurist “wanted blood from the juror,” and that “this kind of thing had never happened before.” Stated Bill Gelin back then, “The central thing is, it’s unheard of nationwide; this type of sentence for a juror.” The case stirred a courthouse cauldron of controversy.

A similar situation occurred a year later, in 2006, in US District Court. Lawyers for former Governor George Ryan argued that jurors, who failed to disclose arrests, including some that occurred more than 20 years ago, were liars who could not be trusted to render a fair verdict. Ryan's defense team said that five such jurors should have been removed from the case, which would have left fewer than 12 jurors to deliberate and triggered a mistrial.

The pot boiled over again today in Los Angeles Superior Court. Instead of deliberating the facs of someone else’s case, on Manuel Soto is posting bond on his own. Called to jury duty last year, he is accused of lying twice by failing to disclose his previous convictions for felonies.

Held in lieu of $100,000 bail, he is charged with two felony counts of perjury for allegedly falsely stating, both on a juror declaration form and in court during questioning by a judge, that he had no felony record, reports the Los Angeles Times.

"The district attorney's Justice System Integrity Division—which handles cases involving police officers, attorneys and jurors—has filed charges in just one other case involving a juror since 2000," the article states.

I don’t know, but a $100,000 is a higher bail then Judge Futch would have authorized. Jurors are scared, nervous, and intimidated by the courthouse, and that is just trying to find a parking space. This kind of bond and these kind of sanctions seem harsher than the penalties the accused they were going to judge is facing. Ironically, the new episode though reflects again that so much of what we see everyday and think is new is recycled from years before. What then have we learned in living?

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