Jurors in the Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman trial regularly flouted court rules, were terrified by some of the witnesses and even feared each other so much they went by code names like Pookie and Mountain Dew, one panelist revealed.
The juror’s admissions about ignoring the judge and even lying to his face has breathed life into the drug lord’s planned appeal that was widely believed to be a long shot.
The anonymous juror pulled back the curtain on deciding the historic case in a bombshell sit-down with Vice News.
“We were saying how we should have our own reality TV show, like ‘The Jurors of MTV’ or something like that,” the insider told the site.
Here are some of the most shocking revelations from behind the scenes of the six-week-plus trial:
- Despite stern and repeated warnings from Judge Brian Cogan, at least five jurors and two of the six alternates repeatedly ignored his orders not to read media reports about the internationally covered case.“We would constantly go to your media, your Twitter,” the juror told the Vice interviewer. “I personally and some other jurors that I knew.
”The disobedient panelist admitted that they knew they were supposed to conduct a self-imposed media blackout, and even lived in fear of the consequences — but just couldn’t stay away from the juicy coverage.
One particular nugget that caught jurors’ wandering eyes was coverage about sealed allegations that El Chapo raped 13-year-old girls, which they only learned about by perusing journalists’ Twitter pages.That was also how the jury learned that Cogan was set to grill them about the salacious claim — tipping them off to agree to feign ignorance rather than risk a dismissal.
“I thought we would get arrested,” the juror said. “I thought they were going to hold me in contempt. … I didn’t want to say anything or rat out my fellow jurors. I didn’t want to be that person.”
Still, the tipster insisted that the child rape claims were a non-factor in the jury’s decision to convict El Chapo.
- For all their disregard of Cogan’s rules, the jurors were so in fear of the ruthless El Chapo that they refused even to divulge their real names to each other throughout the 44-day trial, the insider said.
“No one wanted to talk about their personal life,” said the juror. “We didn’t want to give out what we did for a living.”Instead, they cooked up a series of quirky monikers for each other based on their personal tastes: Pookie, Doc, Mountain Dew, Hennessy, Starbucks, 666, FeFe and Loco, to name a few.
- In addition to the schoolyard nicknames, there nearly was a schoolyard brawl, as a US Marshal once had to separate two jurors in a fight over personal space, the report said.
*Once both sides had finally given their closing arguments, it became apparent the panelists were on very different pages.
“There were jurors already with their minds made up,” the juror said. “There were jurors that still weren’t sure, and there were jurors that were looking to find possible ways, possible discrepancies to find him innocent.”
A handful voiced an unwillingness to convict El Chapo, despite a “mountain of evidence,” if it meant the kingpin might spend life in solitary confinement.
- Two jurors essentially refused to participate in the debate — while a third seemingly couldn’t stop debating herself.
“She would say ‘Yes,’ then she would come home and the next day she’d say, ‘You know what: I thought about it and I changed my mind,’” revealed the insider, largely blaming that waffling juror for deliberations taking six days.
When their own guilty verdict was handed down, four jurors cried, and one had a panic attack, according to the fly-on-the-wall.
Asked whether the juror’s claims of rampant dysfunction could bolster his 61-year-old client’s case for an appeal, El Chapo lawyer Jeffrey Lichtman lamented that the panel wasn’t questioned more thoroughly.
“This is why we were basically begging the judge to question the jurors individually regarding the awful allegations made against Mr. Guzman right before jury deliberations,” Lichtman told The Post. “We’ll do the research and appropriate motions will be filed.”
Legal experts said El Chapo and his legal team might just have a shot at unraveling federal prosecutors’ years of hard work thanks to the loose-lipped juror.
“Claims of juror misconduct rarely succeed, and here the evidence of guilt appears overwhelming,” said attorney Mark Bederow. “But if several jurors disregarded the court’s instructions . . . there are serious concerns about a defendant’s rights to due process.”
“Allegations that several jurors acted improperly can’t simply be ignored,” Bederow added. “The jurors could be hauled back into court and asked some very difficult questions.
“What a mess.”