Criminal Justice

'Trial From Hell': Prosecutor Posts on Facebook; Jurors Text; Bailiff Chats in Deliberations

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A recent trial in a Florida felony gun case sounds like a fact pattern out of a law school exam problem:

Jurors admittedly were texting and making cell calls during deliberations. A bailiff chatted with members of the deliberating panel during a smoke break, according to St. Lucie County Sheriff’s officials and court records. And, after the deliberations were over, a prosecutor in the case posted a ditty on Facebook about what his co-counsel described as the “trial from hell.” It can be sung to the tune of the theme song from Gilligan’s Island, TCPalm reports.

Although the jurors’ conduct apparently may have contributed to the mistrial granted by Circuit Judge James McCann to defendant Antonio Hill, based on the bailiff’s interaction with jurors, the poem about the trial posted on the social networking site by Assistant State Attorney Brandon White had nothing to do with the mistrial, says Chief Assistant State Attorney Tom Bakkedahl.

He describes the Facebook post about the trial as harmless joking with friends and family, akin to what prosecutors and defense lawyers do over a pitcher of beer at a sports bar after a hard-fought case concludes.

However, “Does it look, uh, what’s the appropriate term, immature? Yes,” Bakkedahl tells the newspaper. “Is it something I’m going to address? Absolutely. I don’t think we should be talking about cases.”

He said he anticipates that the incident will provide a useful “training moment” for the office about what prosecutors should and shouldn’t do, according to the article.

Hat tip: Above the Law.

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