During the federal trial of former Rep. Chaka Fattah for corruption, Judge Harvey Bartle III, sealed documents and issued a gag order on all attorney’s related to the June 17, 2016 dismissal of a juror in the case. It was later discovered that the juror voted to acquit the former Congressman in multiple votes before his dismissal.
The sealed transcripts related to the juror’s dismissal was finally unsealed a few days before Christmas by Judge Bartle after a motion was made by two media entities. After an alternate juror joined the deliberations, Fattah was found guilty on June 21, 2016.
Fattah’s attorneys are arguing he should remain out of prison until the appeal regarding the dismissal of a juror is concluded.
“A substantial issue will be presented on appeal whether it was an abuse of discretion for the trial court to question jurors at an early stage of deliberations without good reason to suspect juror misconduct, to intrude on the jury’s deliberative process, and then dismiss a juror who had serious doubts about the government’s case,” Fattah’s attorneys Sam Silver, Bruce Merenstein and Mark Lee wrote in a motion to the court on December 30, 2016.
Veteran journalist Ralph Cipriano, writing in the BigTrial.com, cited that Fattah’s attorneys pointed to a recent appeals case where “the D.C. Circuit held that a trial court may not remove a juror if the record evidence disclosed any possibility that the request to discharge stems from the juror’s view of the sufficiency of the government’s evidence.”
That the juror removed also happens to be the one juror who voted for Fattah’s acquittal is likely to become a substantial issue in an appeal. Cipriano interviewed the dismissed juror, a military veteran who is now a businessman who lives in Lancaster, Pa., back in August.