If you’re covering a murder trial for a local news station, the last thing you should do is try to follow one of the jurors home. If you just can’t help yourself, though, you should definitely do so in a vehicle that is not a gigantic, conspicuous news van that has your station’s name painted all over it.
That’s exactly what some dummies from WHDH-TV in Boston did last night after jurors in the Aaron Hernandez murder trial finished deliberating, and now somebody is in big trouble. When deliberations started back up this morning, two jurors told Judge E. Susan Garsh that they were followed by a WHDH-TV news van after leaving the courthouse last night.
Not only is it a felony to attempt to contact jurors while a case is still being tried,Not only is attempting to contact jurors while a case is still being tried a felony, it can also lead to juror dismissals and a potential mistrial. The two jurors who were followed were questioned by Garsh during a sidebar this morning, and eventually allowed to stay on the panel. Now, someone from the news station has some explaining to do (via Boston Globe):
“This is an extraordinarily serious matter,” Garsh said from the bench, adding that any form of juror harassment is prohibited while the case is pending.
Garsh said either the driver of the van or a company official needed to testify under oath to establish whether the driver was told to track jurors. She also said she would issue a written order that no one can approach or follow jurors while the case is pending.
“You cannot approach, question, harass, or follow any juror, and there are state felony statutes,” barring such actions, Garsh said in open court, where media members and the public were assembled.
It’s probably been a very fun morning in the WHDH-TV offices.
Photo via AP