Convicted Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman will not be getting a new trial, a judge ruled Wednesday.
Lawyers for the kingpin filed a motion to try to have his guilty verdict tossed earlier this year after an explosive VICE News report in which an unspecified juror claimed some panelists had engaged in various misconduct — including following reporters’ tweets, reading articles and lying to the judge.
Yet Brooklyn federal court Judge Brian Cogan denied the motion and declined to even hold a hearing on the issue, calling the defense request “the textbook definition of a fishing expedition.
“There is no indication that this news coverage was prejudicial to defendant in any way – and prejudice is the key factor in any new trial motion. To be clear, this point is made in addition to the other sufficient grounds to deny defendant’s request for an evidentiary hearing,” the judge wrote in the 45-page decision.
Cogan also noted that allegations seen by jurors accusing Guzman of raping young girls — who he allegedly called “vitamins” — didn’t matter, given the dark tenor of the rest of the trial.
“Although different in kind, these allegations of sexual abuse are no more gruesome and prejudicial as the overwhelming amount of evidence that the jury heard and saw about defendant threatening, torturing, and murdering people,” he wrote.
Jurors convicted the 62-year-old Guzman in February after a nearly four-month trial. Guzman faces life behind bars when sentenced July 17.
Defense lawyer Jeffrey Lichtman said the latest decision wasn’t “remotely surprising.
“We’ve said from the start that the Joaquin Guzman trial was more of an inquisition, a show trial, than an exercise in true American justice,” Lichtman said. “We’re at the point that even though jurors committed crimes while themselves judging Mr. Guzman, a hearing to determine the extent of the misconduct was not even ordered.
“If such a hearing were to occur,” he said, “I have no doubt that the 18 jurors and alternates would have told 18 different stories – thus necessitating a new trial for sure. Instead, there will always be a stain of injustice on this case as the jury’s rampant misconduct was summarily swept under the rug by the court and the government.”
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