Thursday, June 07, 2007

Juror didn't follow Court's instructions

This particular (alternate) juror in the Wilk case got caught not following the Court's instructions. I wonder how often stuff like this happens.... Check out this Sun-Sentinel article about a juror who was posting comments on web about the case:

For six weeks, jurors in the trial of Kenneth Wilk sat in court and heard a lot of evidence about how easily people can get tripped up by their online comments.On Wednesday, an alternate juror got kicked off the jury after she admitted posting a comment online about the case during the trial. The woman was not one of the 12 jurors who convicted Wilk on Tuesday for the murder of Broward Sheriff's Deputy Todd Fatta, but she had been scheduled to return to court today for the death penalty phase of the trial.
Kimberly Ann Martin told the trial judge she posted a comment on the Internet because she was upset by other readers' remarks attached to a news article. She did not identify which Web site she visited or when but said she wrote that nobody, other than Wilk and police, knows what happened in Wilk's Fort Lauderdale home .U.S. District Judge James Cohn had warned the jurors and alternates every day of the trial that they were not to get any information about the case, other than evidence presented in the court. They were not to discuss the case with anyone, they were not to read about it in newspapers, watch anything about it on TV, and they were not to get any facts about it online.Cohn was clearly displeased by the juror's answers and said she had a somewhat "cavalier attitude" but told her he would not punish her because he could not say she intentionally violated his orders. She could have been called on to decide Wilk's fate if one of the 12 jurors is unavailable. Only one alternate juror remains.Martin said she did not read the news report but clicked on a link at the bottom of the article, read other readers' comments and added her own."I didn't think I was really violating [the order] by reading the comments," she told the judge. "I didn't think it was facts, I thought it was opinions... I also thought I didn't discuss the case."Martin's actions came to light because the judge and attorneys on the case were trying to find the identity of a person who posted another online comment to a report, claiming to have been a juror who was excused from the case during trial. "Burrowingowl" predicted on May 24 that Wilk would get life in prison because there are "a few jurors I can't see going along with the death penalty." The person, who has not been found, knew other details that indicated he or she was in court.

The death penalty phase is coming up. Although many death penalty advocates will point to this case as the prototypical case for death (the admitted shooting of a cop), I'd be surprised if Wilk gets sentenced to death. The federal death penalty is an almost extinct dinosaur. The standards for being qualified to do a federal death penalty case are so high that the lawyering is always at a very high level, as it was in this case. Thoughts?


Anonymous said...







v. Case No. 07-21256 (Judge Adalberto Jordan)






COMES NOW plaintiff, John B. Thompson, hereinafter Thompson, as an attorney and plaintiff on his own behalf, and files this motion and memorandum of law in support thereof for court-order mediation herein, stating:

1. Rule 16 (a) (5) provides this court the authority to order certain measures to facilitate settlement of a case.

2. Toward that end, plaintiff seeks an order mandating the parties to participate to attempt mediation herein.

3. Plaintiff, toward that end, must relate a remarkable development yesterday in the state “disciplinary” proceedings wrongfully filed and being pursued by defendant The Florida Bar in which Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Dava Tunis has become, regrettably, ensnared as the “referee.”

4. Thompson had moved Judge Tunis for an order to compel The Bar and Thompson to mediate the disciplinary matter under her jurisdiction. The Bar miscited and misinterprets Bar Rule 14 for the proposition that mediation cannot occur, in a disciplinary matter unless The Bar agrees to it. This, however, only applies to mediation of fee disputes. There is no impediment to mediation of the current matter, which is not a fee dispute.

5. Nevertheless, Judge Tunis, in an abundance of caution and apparently agreeing with The Bar, will not order mediation in the disciplinary proceeding.

6. However, significantly Judge Tunis has said now, at two separate hearings that “I strongly urge The Florida Bar to consent to mediation in this matter.” Judge Tunis, to paraphrase closely also said the following: “As a criminal court judge, when I have a defendant standing in front of me, as Mr. Thompson is here today, stating that he wants to resolve a criminal matter (Thompson is not accused of any criminal activity; Judge Tunis was making the analogy to what she presides over in criminal court) and he says ‘I want to resolve this and get this behind me,’ then I expect the State Attorney to be willing to do what The Bar is apparently not willing to do, in order to explore settlement. The first think I asked The Bar at the very first status conference was what was being done or could be done to try to resolve this matter. Mr. Thompson has said that he is willing to pay all costs of the mediation, but The Bar says it will not mediate. I again strongly urge you to go to your superiors and tell them that this court strongly urges mediation be attempted.” Thompson apologizes if the foregoing is at variance with what is eventually transcribed, but that is the clear gist of what Judge Tunis, a defendant now in this federal civil right action, said.

7. We thus have the remarkable situation, now before this court, in which the defendant, Judge Tunis, wants mediation. Plaintiff herein and respondent in The Bar action wants and will pay completely for mediation, and The Bar, which organizationally promotes mediation at its own web site and through various other means, refuses to do so in the disciplinary matter. It claims a legal right to block it. The Bar has no legal right to block mediation in this federal action.

8. In point of fact, in an earlier action in which Barry Richard, a wonderful and skilled attorney at Greenberg Traurig, was representing The Bar as a defendant therein, he, Barry Richard, agreed to mediation on behalf of The Bar. Mr. Richard did the right thing. Now, however, we have lower level (in a bureaucratic flow chart sense only) making all sorts of disastrous decisions out of the Orlando Bar Office, with one Assistant Bar Prosecutor in particular repeatedly obstructing possible resolution of this entire dispute. This must stop. Mediation can stop it.

9. Thus, plaintiff and defendant Tunis want mediation in the state action. It is presumed that Judge Tunis would welcome it in this action, which would not have been filed if The Bar were willing to talk to Thompson or his counsel. The Bar literally refuses to talk with Thompson’s record counsel in the The Bar matter! The Bar, Thompson thus is able to represent to this court that he has discharged his duty, under the Federal Rules, to try to get the defendants to agree to this motion. Defendant Tunis seems to agree, in light of her words yesterday. She has in fact sternly and clearly urged The Bar to mediate. So far it refuses, and thus plaintiff can assert that efforts on his part to get The Bar to mediate the dispute embodies in this federal action has failed.

WHERFORE, plaintiff respectfully moves this court for an order compelling the parties to mediate this matter. Plaintiff will pay for it.

I HEREBY CERTIFY that this has been served this 8th day of June, 2007, by both fax and mail upon the above two defendants at their respective addresses and by email as well.

[Signed by]


Attorney, Florida Bar #231665

1172 South Dixie Hwy., Suite 111

Coral Gables, Florida 33146

Phone: 305-666-4366

Rumpole said...

May I humbly suggest moderation is in order lest your distingished pages turn into a forum of pleadings.

And if you're going to post pleadings, can you at least restrict them to the Paris Hilton case?

Anonymous said...

No, but thanks for asking.