Bell Jury May Have Given Improper Verdict of Guilty, Anonymous Juror Tells Judge

Juror's note casts doubt on the Bell verdicts

By Olsen Ebright
|  Friday, Mar 22, 2013  |  Updated 6:32 AM PDT
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A juror of the

Tony Guinyard

A juror of the "Bell 6" corruption trial submitted an anonymous note to the judge saying the "pressure and stress" of deliberation may have led the jury to deliver improper verdicts. Tony Guinyard reports for NBC4 News at Noon on March 21, 2013.

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Deliberations resumed Thursday on the remaining deadlocked counts in the Bell corruption trial amid the revelation that at least one of the jurors is second guessing the initial guilty verdicts handed down Wednesday.

"I have been debating in my own mind that due to the pressure and stress of the deliberation process, the jury may have given an improper verdict of guilty on the Solid Waste Authority," wrote a juror who wished to remain anonymous in a letter to Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy.

On Wednesday, five of the defendants were found guilty on multiple counts of misappropriation of public funds in relation to the council's dealings with the Solid Waste and Recycling Authority. They were found not guilty of misappropriation for pay received from the Public Finance Authority. 

One of the so-called "Bell 6," Luis Artiga, was acquitted on all charges.

The anonymous juror's note (embedded below) is now casting doubt on the guilty verdicts.

"It is better to be certain beyond a reasonable doubt to give a verdict of guilty than send someone innocent to prosecution," wrote the juror.

Kennedy would not let lawyers pursue the ramifications of the note on Thursday, but it could be grounds to request a new trial in the future.

"This is the second note that we've gotten indicating that there is some doubt by jurors," said former Bell Mayor Oscar Hernandez's attorney Stanley Friedman, referencing a note sent to the judge Wednesday from juror No. 7 raising the possibility of juror misconduct in the view of several of the defense attorneys.

"So now we have two out of 12 indicating that they have some doubt about how they voted. … That is evidence of a compromised verdict, which is not legal. Where somebody says, 'You vote my way on this, and I'll vote your way on this,'" Friedman said.

Related: Bell Activists "Relieved" After Multiple Guilty Verdicts | Criminal Complaint Against "Bell 6"

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