Ghost Ship Trial: More juror problems in case over deadly Oakland fire

ByLeslie Brinkley KGO logo
Wednesday, August 21, 2019
Ghost Ship Trial: More juror problems in case over deadly Oakland fire
Three jurors were dismissed for misconduct and now there are more issues - there's only one alternate left in the Ghost Ship trial.

OAKLAND, Calif. -- There's only one alternate left in the Ghost Ship trial, putting the court case in potential jeopardy. Three jurors were dismissed on Monday for misconduct, with the judge replacing them with three alternates and ordering deliberations to begin all over again.

On Tuesday, in court the judge alluded to the misconduct Incident happening late last Thursday involving a possible text message with a media link of some kind. The jurors were admonished to not use the internet for anything pertaining to the case or interact with each other

The judge said she could criminally sanction two of them for contempt of court.

TIMELINE: How the investigation into the deadly Ghost Ship fire unfolded

The third was dismissed because she knew of the illicit communication and didn't report it.

William Cole, a defense attorney not affiliated with the case, speculated, "It seems unlikely the county is going to start prosecuting jurors for who knows what but this puts a serious crimp in the trial that's now in jeopardy."

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The only remaining alternate juror could soon be seated on the panel because of a fourth juror who has an upcoming scheduling conflict. There are work and vacation conflicts to sort through even though the judge told the jury the trial could extend into October. It started in late April.

The judge is asking for proof of nonrefundable expenses. One juror has delayed a medical procedure. The court is scheduled to be dark from this Thursday until after Labor Day for "vacation plans," but the judge has the latitude to amend that. After getting six juror notes about conflicts on Monday, the judge indicated much of September could be in question for deliberations.

With only one alternate left, even replacing one more juror because of the conflicts could put the case in jeopardy. If there are no alternates left, the case could proceed with 11 jurors, but both the prosecution and defense would have to agree to that- which some attorneys speculate is unlikely. At that point, a mistrial could be declared.

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