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Fw: [WM3d] CA WM3 story

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  • wolfvision
    News alert.....good news about the case. Thank you Mara and Mandy for sharing this. The Wolf ... From: Amanda Lamb To:
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 29, 2004
      News alert.....good news about the case.
      Thank you Mara and Mandy for sharing this.

      The Wolf


      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "Amanda Lamb" <lambamanda@...>
      To: <WM3discussion@...>
      Sent: Friday, October 29, 2004 1:28 PM
      Subject: [WM3d] CA WM3 story


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      OCTOBER 29, 2004

      Defense Lawyers Claim Juror Misconduct

      By Peter Blumberg
      Daily Journal Staff Writer
      SAN FRANCISCO - Three jurors in the West Memphis Three case have
      recently admitted that they reached guilty verdicts by considering
      deeply incriminating evidence that was strictly off limits, according to
      habeas corpus petitions being filed today.

      The petitions allege that during the heavily publicized 1994
      capital trial in Jonesboro, jurors were improperly influenced by a
      grisly confession that of the one teenage defendants gave to police
      implicating him and his two friends in the murder of three 8-year-old
      boys.

      The potentially explosive petitions were filed by San Francisco
      defense attorneys Dennis Riordan and Donald Horgan in state and federal
      court in Arkansas.

      They contend that Damien Echols and Jason Baldwin were deprived
      of a fair trial because jurors were well aware from news accounts that
      co-defendant Jessie Misskelley gave a confession attributing the
      slayings to their joint participation in a satanic cult.

      Misskelley was tried and convicted first. But because he refused
      to testify against the others, rules restricting hearsay testimony
      barred his confession from being used in any way in the Echols/Baldwin
      trial, which started two weeks later.

      "Echols was tried separately from Misskelley precisely in order
      to ensure that the Echols jury would not be exposed to the Misskelley
      statement," wrote Riordan and Donald Horgan, who represents Echols. "Yet
      notes taken by a juror, as well as statements of jurors themselves,
      establish the central role played by the Misskelley statement during the
      deliberations of the Echols jury."

      In the 11 years since Echols was sentenced to death and Baldwin
      and Misskelley each got life in prison, defense attorneys have struck
      out in every appeal they've filed with the Arkansas Supreme Court. The
      state high court has rejected dozens of reasons why the defendants claim
      they deserve new trials.

      The state and federal habeas petitions prepared by Riordan and
      his partner mark the first bid for a reversal based on juror misconduct.

      Riordan's detailed narrative portrays the jury foreman as
      downplaying his knowledge of the Misskelley confession during voir dire
      and then flouting the judge's explicit orders not to even think about
      the confession while assessing the charges against Baldwin and Echols.

      According to the narrative, based on interviews with jurors
      about their two days of closed-door deliberations and their own notes,
      the foreman of the 12-member jury drew up large charts for both
      defendants to consider all factors weighing toward guilt or innocence.
      Misskelley's statement appeared on the lists as a major factor.

      "The items on those original lists appear to match the items
      listed in Juror Seven's notes, except that the written references to the
      Misskelley statement on both the Echols and Baldwin list have been
      blacked out over by someone," Riordan wrote.

      To protect their privacy, the jurors are identified only by
      their assigned numbers, not by name, in the petitions. Their names are
      being filed under seal.

      The foreman, Juror Four, had been contacted many times by
      reporters and lawyers following the trial but never granted an interview
      until Oct. 8, when he was interviewed by two attorneys representing
      Echols. He refused, however, to sign a declaration.

      "In Juror Four's opinion, it was unreasonable to expect the jury
      to ignore the Misskelley confession despite the court's instructions to
      do so," Riordan wrote, summarizing the interview. "The Misskelley
      confession was published in the newspapers. It was a primary and
      deciding factor in the case. It was a known event."

      By contrast, during voir dire, when the foreman was questioned
      sharply about his prior knowledge of the Misskelley case, he did not
      disclose that he even knew there was a confession, according to excerpts
      of the court transcript quoted in the petition.

      "I don't know anything - I couldn't tell you anything about
      Misskelley except that I understand he was convicted of something, and I
      couldn't even tell you of what," he said.

      Jurors Six and Seven also revealed in recent defense interviews
      that they had more knowledge about the details of the Misskelley
      prosecution going into the Echols/Baldwin trial than they admitted
      during voir dire, according to the petition. Several other jurors
      indicated that they, too, had been exposed to extensive pretrial
      publicity.

      During the Echols/Baldwin trial, a prosecution witness made an
      oblique reference to the Misskelley statement, but he was quickly cut
      off, and the judge warned jurors to put it out of their minds.

      "Ladies and gentlemen, you are instructed and told at this time
      that you are to disregard and not consider the last response by
      Detective Ridge to a question from Mr. Price and you're to - if you can
      remember it - you're to strike it from your mind and not give it any
      consideration," Circuit Judge David Burnett said.

      Riordan's petitions cite a litany of state and federal
      precedents holding that a new trial is the only constitutionally proper
      remedy when jurors have been influenced by extraneous prejudicial
      information.




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      © 2004 Daily Journal Corporation. All rights reserved.

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