Skip to comments.Traficant juror changes his mind; now convinced conviction was wrong
Posted on 07/21/2002 8:13:11 PM PDT by Ready2go
Traficant juror changes his mind; now convinced conviction was wrong
Sabrina Eaton and John Caniglia Plain Dealer Reporters
- A juror who helped convict U.S. Rep. James Traficant says his vote to find the Youngstown congressman guilty of 10 felonies in April was a mistake. He says he changed his mind after watching televised testimony before a House ethics panel this week.
"I know it's after the fact, but now I believe that there's no doubt that the government was out to get him, and if they want you, they'll find enough evidence to make you believe that the Earth is flat," said Leo Glaser of Independence, who was juror No. 8 at Traficant's nine-week trial in Cleveland.
Glaser, 54, said he was swayed by the testimony of Richard Detore, a Virginia executive accused of bribing Traficant. Detore, who faces trial in October, chose not to testify in Traficant's trial because he could have hurt his own case. But he did give his version to a House ethics panel that later recommended that Traficant be tossed from his job.
Detore told the panel he hadn't tried to bribe Traficant and that the chief prosecutor in the case against Traficant, Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Morford, urged him to fabricate a story to say he overheard Traficant seeking favors from Youngstown businessman John J. Cafaro in exchange for political influence. He said his refusal to lie about Traficant resulted in his own indictment.
Morford, who was unable to present his side of the story when Detore testified in Washington, yesterday categorically denied "any improper conduct" and said Traficant brought up the same allegations last year in legal motions that were rejected by Judge Lesley Wells. He declined to comment on Glaser's statements.
Under federal law, Glaser's change of heart won't change the verdict against Traficant. Although it's unusual for jurors to change their minds after a trial, Case Western University law professor and political scientist Jonathan Entin said Traficant probably won't succeed if he tries to use Glaser's reversal to appeal the verdict, because Detore voluntarily refused to testify in Cleveland.
Madison Republican Rep. Steve LaTourette, a member of the ethics panel that recommended Traficant's expulsion on Thursday, said that Glaser contacted his office several weeks ago to discuss the case but that ethics committee lawyers barred him from talking to the juror because of his role in deciding Traficant's fate.
LaTourette said he'll ask Speaker Dennis Hastert to bring Glaser's concerns to the attention of the House of Representatives before it decides whether to eject Traficant next week.
Another ethics committee member, Cleveland Democrat Stephanie Tubbs Jones, said she wasn't sure how Glaser's statements would affect Traficant's case.
"He's certainly not the first juror to reconsider his decision after a trial," Tubbs Jones said.
Glaser, who came to public attention when a Cleveland judge dismissed a traffic citation he was issued while trying to feed a homeless man during the 1996 holiday season, said he would have voted to acquit Traficant of all charges if Detore had testified at the bribery and racketeering trial.
"It would have given me reasonable doubt," said Glaser, a design technician at the Cleveland Electric Illuminating Co. who has twice run for mayor of Independence.
But other jurors said the evidence, with or without Detore's story, buried Traficant. Traficant's employees said he made them give kickbacks from their salaries and do unpaid work on his farm and boat. Local contractors said they gave Traficant bribes in exchange for assistance. Wells is scheduled to sentence Traficant on July 30.
"There was just so much evidence in the case and so many witnesses that the wealth of information against [Traficant] was overwhelming," said Jeri Zimmerman, a juror from Mentor. "I kept saying to myself, 'Please, please show me something, anything, that would make me wonder.' But [Traficant] never did. And the witnesses he called hurt him more than helped him."
Asked about Detore's testimony before the panel, Zimmerman said: "That's one person. What about the other 50 people that we saw? The government's case was overwhelming."
To reach this Plain Dealer reporter:
© 2002 The Plain Dealer. Used with permission. » Send This Page | » Print This Page MORE NEWS
Please note that Morford did not deny the factual allegations, but only denied "any improper conduct". To many prosecutors, subverting due process and obstructing justice is not "improper".
Pr'aps. But you have to be PICKED for jury duty!
I don't know whether that happened here, but it's a rare case where the judge allows the lawyers days or even hours to select a jury.
Actually, not picked but capable of surviving the process of elimination.
I would guess that almost all of our senators and congress have done the same.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.