Drug lord El Chapo wants new trial, hearing to probe jury misconduct
NEW YORK — The defense team for Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman said Friday it will seek a new trial for the notorious drug lord in light of “misconduct” on the part of several jurors who allegedly followed media accounts of the case against the instructions of a federal judge.
Defense attorney Eduardo Balarezo said in a court filing he intends to ask U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan to conduct an evidentiary hearing “to determine the extent of the misconduct.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn declined to comment.
Guzman was convicted last week of murder conspiracy and drug-trafficking charges. He faces life in prison at his June sentencing.
The filing came two days after VICE News reported that at least five jurors followed media reports and Twitter feeds during the three-month-long trial and were aware of potentially prejudicial material that had been excluded from the proceedings.
Cogan regularly warned jurors to avoid reading about the case, one of the most highly publicized trials in recent memory.
Guzman’s attorneys said they want Cogan to quiz the jurors about their behavior during the trial. They asked for an additional month to prepare their motion for new trial, which is due next week.
One juror anonymously told VICE News that five jurors and two alternates heard about child rape allegations made against Guzman that were covered by the news media but not admitted into evidence at the trial. The juror also alleged that another member of the panel used a smartwatch to look up a news story at one point during the trial.
“It’s clear we have to get them back into court and get some answers about some massive misconduct,” Guzman attorney Jeffrey Lichtman told The Associated Press this week. “We hope it will lead to Joaquin Guzman getting the fair trial that he deserves.”