Interview With City Hall Corruption Trial Juror Triggers Motion for New Trial Based on Jury Misconduct from Sheila Hill's Attorney
Don Hill's testimony about the fax machine found at his residence in June 2005 tickled juror Nedra Frazier so much that she may have let it slip that she either was talking about the case before deliberations or listening to others talk about it.
When we spoke with juror Nedra Frazier hours after she helped convict Don Hill, his wife and three others in the Dallas City Hall corruption case, she mentioned Hill's denial about owning a fax machine as "the one thing that stuck out" during his testimony. After she referred to it as "the talk of the day," we pressed her for an explanation, and Frazier denied discussing it with other jurors before deliberations.
However, she referred to "outside people," the public and media as those she heard elaborating on the issue, leading to a motion filed this afternoon by Sheila Hill's attorney, Victor Vital, requesting a new trial or evidentiary hearing into possible jury misconduct. In addition to citing Frazier's comments to us, the motion claims Frazier "gave opinions about the case" to an acquaintance of defendant D'Angelo Lee prior to the verdicts (a signed statement from Lee is included) and reminds U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn that a newspaper was found in the jury room containing an article about the trial.
Juror statements have come to light which indicate that, during the trial, jurors were listening to comments from the public. In order to ensure that a fair trial was not compromised, Mrs. Hill requests that the Court declare a mistrial or, alternatively, conduct an evidentiary hearing and investigation into whether juror misconduct has occurred.
We've left a message for Frazier and also contacted Rachel Secore, the only other juror to respond to our phone calls. Secore has remained close with Frazier after the trial and says she didn't witness Frazier discussing the case prior to deliberations. "There's plenty to talk about outside of the trial, and we did that."
Secore stresses that Judge Lynn asked jurors not to speak with the media, even though she couldn't stop them from doing so. "We have been asked and reminded that any comments that we make might not be a good idea, and I would agree with that," she tells Unfair Park.
Why -- because of the pending trials of the other defendants (Jibreel Rashad, Terri Hodge and Ron Slovacek)?
"This was a very, very big deal, and none of us want to say anything that could affect the appeal process or affect any of the other trials going forward," Secore says. "We can always point it back at the judge. I mean, the judge asked us to do so -- asked us to be very careful."
Vital also filed motions for a new trial based on the weight of the evidence, judgments for acquittal on all the counts she was found guilty and a renewed motion to dismiss count 19.Jury Misconduct - motion
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Observer's biggest stories.