Today, we learned that Juror #7 from the Scott Peterson murder trial will testify at Peterson’s upcoming hearing for a new trial beginning on February 25th due to possible juror misconduct by Juror #7. Juror #7, Richelle Nice, will be called as the first witness for the defense.
That’s a big deal!
Previously, juror #7 had stated that she would not testify pursuant to her fifth amendment right to remain silent. Why the change? The prosecution advised the court and Peterson’s counsel that she will be given immunity; thus, she will not face criminal prosecution for any potentially false or withheld information during jury selection. Another words, if she failed to disclose information or misrepresented information relating to her ability to be an impartial juror on the juror questionnaire or otherwise, she would not be prosecuted for, say, perjury, for example. If she is given immunity, she will be required to answer the questions asked when she testifies.
She will be represented by her own private counsel at the hearing and will be subject to examination by all the parties, including the judge. Her credibility, like every witness who takes the stand, will be at issue and evaluated by the judge who will decide whether Peterson gets a new trial.
Get ready for DeJa Vu!
We will also likely hear from Peterson’s prior criminal attorney, Mark Geragos, according to Peterson’s attorney. He will likely be asked whether he would have challenged Juror #7 had he known, as alleged, that she had been beaten by her boyfriend while pregnant and been involved in prior litigation which was not disclosed on the juror questionnaire or during voir dire. If true, most attorneys would have challenged Juror #7 given a potential similarity to Laci Peterson to protect Scott Peterson’s right to a fair trial including impartial jurors.
Depending on Juror#7’s testimony, we may also hear from juror #5 as well, who although excused from the murder trial, may have had conversations with Juror #7 relevant to her potential bias, prior experiences, impartiality or lack thereof. The defense has also indicated that in rebuttal, they may call several journalists who interviewed juror #7 to support their claim of juror misconduct.
Both sides have indicated they will be calling several witnesses and submitting many exhibits. The hearing is scheduled to last for 5 days from Feb 25 to March 4th.
Motions for a new trial happen all the time, but, few are based on statements made by a juror many years after conviction that appear to question her ability to be impartial, truthful, and the integrity of the trial process and verdict. Yet, the question remains, does Juror #7 alleged misconduct amount to “prejudicial misconduct”, thus, denying Peterson’s right to a fair trial—-did Peterson have 12 impartial jurors? Criminal cases require 12 jurors to convict a defendant. Otherwise, a conviction can be thrown out and a new trial ordered.
Stay tuned, we may learn more as we have another hearing on Feb 17th regarding further motions and matters.
Simply my opinion, what say you?
Read my interview with KRON4 News San Francisco