Mistrial Declared Because Jurors Lied About Criminal Records

by TChris

Suffolk County, Massachusetts District Attorney Daniel Conley is making a stink about five jurors who lied about having criminal records.

Prosecutors learned of the jurors' criminal records Wednesday, Conley said, the day after the jury acquitted a second defendant -- Marquis Nelson, 25, of Roxbury -- of first-degree murder in the death of Persad, a 10-year-old who police said was caught between two rival gangs in a Roxbury park.

The jury hadn't reached a verdict against the first defendant (six were for acquittal, four for conviction, and two undecided) when prosecutors conducted a background check on the jurors and discovered the convictions, causing the judge to declare a mistrial in the prosecution of that defendant. The defense questions whether the prosecution, having just suffered an acquittal, searched for a way to derail the jury before it acquitted the other defendant.

Conley claims that "These corrupted jurors helped a killer to go free," a claim belied by the agreement of the jurors with clean records that the government failed to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Sounds like sour grapes from a prosecutor who built a case on the dubious testimony of a gang member.

In any event, a criminal conviction shouldn't disqualify a citizen from jury service. People who have been through the criminal justice system bring a real-world perspective to jury deliberations that are otherwise dominated by those who believe that "Law and Order" presents a realistic view of the way that police and prosectors operate.

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