Juror to stay on Gillum trial after posting courthouse selfies on LinkedIn
The judge said the posts did not appear to give the juror outside information on the case
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The judge in the federal corruption trial of former Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum decided Wednesday to retain a juror who posted about the trial on her LinkedIn.
The fourth day of deliberations in the trial of Gillum and his former campaign advisor, Sharon Lettman-Hicks, was paused Wednesday at about 4 p.m. when an attorney brought up the social media posts in court. At 4:45 p.m., attorneys and the judge gathered to discuss how the posts would affect the trial and jury.
During that conversation, Judge Allen Winsor decided not to excuse the juror, saying nothing indicated the posts exposed her to outside information on the case. He also said the length of the deliberations factored into the decision to keep her on.
“It would be different if we were only two hours into it,” Winsor said.
Lettman-Hicks’s attorney, Alex Morris, said he wanted the juror removed. Gillum’s attorney and the prosecution supported retaining the jury member.
The former mayor’s defense, David Markus, also asked the judge for the second time this week to consider declaring a mistrial. Winsor declined. Deliberations are set to continue.
During the meeting, the group considered bringing in an alternate juror. If the LinkedIn poster were dismissed, the defense supported the idea of bringing in an alternate and restarting deliberations. But in that case, the prosecution and judge would have preferred just moving forward with one fewer juror, bringing the total to 11.
The juror took to LinkedIn to post selfies outside the federal courthouse in Tallahassee and to discuss trying to reach a verdict. Attorneys said there are 170 comments on her posts on the employment-focused platform.
The posts also included comments like, “I hope we reach a verdict,” and, “I pray we can arrive on a verdict today,” according to Alex Morris, attorney for Sharon Lettman-Hicks.
After Morris first brought the posts to the court’s attention, prosecutors told the judge they weren’t ready to excuse the juror and wanted time to review if any comments could have swayed her opinion.
“Obviously she’s violated the court’s order,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary Milligan said. “The juror isn’t allowed to consider things that weren’t presented in court.”
The jury was set to leave for the day at about 6 p.m.
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