Fresno judge cleared of juror misconduct

FRESNO, Calif.

The judge ruled his colleague did nothing to cause the defendant to not receive a fair trial by an impartial jury. This ends several allegations made about the judge turned juror. Tuesday morning, the judge in question took the stand to clear the record.

After hearing two days of witness testimony Judge Arlan Harrell ruled ... another superior court judge under question did not do anything that rose to the level of juror misconduct during the murder trial of Ruben Ortiz.

Outside court defense attorneys say they were disappointed but not surprised to hear the decision. "We believed taken in its totality the defendant received less than a fair trial under the constitution," said Defense Attorney, David Mugridge.

The Honorable Judge Jim Oppliger was juror number 10 ... after the verdict allegations surfaced about whether emails he sent to other judges mentioning his jury service were grounds for misconduct.

Defense attorneys relied heavily on the testimony of Josephine Canel. She is a friend of the defendants. Monday she testified hearing someone she identified as Judge Oppliger making comments on a cell phone "About a Hispanic man who is a gang member with a gun." the court found she was not reliable.

In denying the motion, the judge said quote: "Ms. Canel's testimony was certainly sensational but not very credible."

Prosecutors say it was clear Oppliger did not cross the line when he sent questionable emails during the trial.

Deputy District Attorney, Lynmarc Jenkins said, "Judge listened to the evidence and he made the correct ruling. There was nothing in the defenses papers that showed there was any actual misconduct. There was a lot of smoke but no actual substance."

Tuesday morning Oppliger testified he never made the racist remarks Canel had claimed. Regarding the emails, Oppliger said, "I wouldn't do it again if presented with the same situation."

Oppliger said he was surprised to be picked to sit on this trial, especially since he knew many law enforcement officers and professionals who would be called to testify. He says he and the other jurors were serious about their job and conscientious about the decision they were making.

Ruben Ortiz was found guilty of second degree murder for the death of 15-year-old Chrisna Long. He will be sentenced in Wednesday morning.

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