How a Paralegal Almost Screwed Up A Very High Profile Trial

Oh, I'm almost ashamed to print this.  But then again, it's not like it was my fault.  However, when someone from the profession screws up so badly that it hits MSNBC, well, that's not good.

It seems that a juror who vanished during Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens' corruption trial told the judge Monday she lied about her father dying and flew to California to see horse races.

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan ordered Marian Hinnant (whom MSNBC identifies as a "licensed" paralegal and juror No. 4) to return to court to explain why she disappeared during jury deliberations. Hinnant, 52, brought a stack of handwritten notes with her to the court Monday along with public defender A.J. Kramer, and told the judge that her father hadn't died and she was at the Breeders' Cup in Arcadia, Calif.

As if that weren't enough, Hinnant started a long rambling story about horses, which included references to horse breeding, the Breeders' Cup, drugs, President Ford's son Steven and her condo in Florida being bugged. (I don't think she meant the horsefly kind.)

The judge was having none of it. "I am thoroughly convinced you would not have been able to continue to deliberate," Sullivan interrupted.

Outside the courthouse, Hinnant refused to answer questions about whether she was on medication or had been hospitalized. When asked what she thought about Stevens' case, she said: "He didn't do anything any of the other congressmen and senators did, so they're all guilty."

Hinnant told court officials Oct. 23 that her father had died and that she had to fly to California the next morning. Sullivan halted the deliberations, which had started the day before, to give her a chance to take care of her father's affairs. However, Hinnant refused to return telephone calls from court officials.

Sullivan replaced her on Oct. 27, and the jury convicted Stevens the same day on seven felony counts of lying on Senate documents to hide hundreds of thousands of dollars of gifts and home renovations from a millionaire businessman. Stevens, who has represented Alaska in the Senate since 1968, is in a tight race with Democratic challenger Mark Begich, the mayor of Anchorage. Stevens said he is going to appeal.

I'm not a lawyer.  Does this mean this incident can be woven into the appeal?



One Reply to “How a Paralegal Almost Screwed Up A Very High Profile Trial”

  1. Dear Ms. Estrin:

    According to the Washington Post, she works for a “mortgage company.”

    It is a very strange story.

    Robin Elizabeth Margolis

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