Washington: Attorneys for Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, will seek a new trial after a report that jurors at the Mexican kingpin’s drug conspiracy trial engaged in misconduct by following media coverage during the months-long proceedings.
Guzman, the head of Mexico’s murderous Sinaloa drug cartel, was convicted earlier this month of 10 counts, including engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, conspiracy to launder narcotics proceeds, international distribution of cocaine, heroin, marijuana and other drugs, and use of firearms, CNN reported. He faces a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole for leading a continuing criminal enterprise, and a sentence of up to life imprisonment on the remaining drug counts.
Attorney Eduardo Balarezo in a letter on Friday informed US District Judge Brian Cogan of the defence team’s intention to file a motion for a new trial. He cited a Vice News report this week that quoted a unnamed juror who said several panel members followed media accounts despite the judge’s instructions to “stay away” from coverage. “Guzman intends to file motion for a new trial based on the disclosures in the article and to request an evidentiary hearing to determine the extent of the misconduct,” Balarezo wrote.
Later Friday, Judge Cogan granted Balarezo’s request for an extension to file a motion for a new trial. The team has until March 28 to file the motion. The partially sequestered and anonymous jury of eight women and four men deliberated roughly 34 hours over six days. For over two months, they sat through 200 hours of testimony from 56 prosecution witnesses. Only one witness testified for the defence.
After confirming the verdicts with each juror, Cogan told them their conduct on the panel “made me very proud to be an American”, CNN said. Balarezo said on Friday: “If it is true that many of the jurors were following media reports, had access to information they shouldn’t have had, what should happen is that we get a new trial, because Joaquin did not get a fair trial.”