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Case 3:07-cr-00289-M Document 1044 Filed 10/28/2009 Page 1 of 3

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT


FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
DALLAS DIVISION

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA §


§
Plaintiff, §
§
v. § CRIMINAL ACTION NO.
§
SHEILA D. FARRINGTON (03) § 3:07-CR-289-M
a/k/a “Sheila Hill,” et al. §
§
Defendant.
§

DEFENDANT SHEILA HILL’S MOTION FOR NEW TRIAL BASED ON JURY


MISCONDUCT OR, ALTERNATIVELY, AN EVIDENTIARY HEARING

Defendant Sheila Hill files this motion for a new trial based on jury misconduct or,

alternatively, an evidentiary hearing on the misconduct. In support, she states as follows:

Juror statements have come to light which indicate that, during the trial, jurors were

listening to comments from the public. In order to ensure that a fair trial was not compromised,

Mrs. Hill requests that the Court declare a mistrial or, alternatively, conduct an evidentiary

hearing and investigation into whether juror misconduct has occurred.

I.

After the verdict, the Dallas Observer interviewed juror Nedra Frazier, who commented

that Don Hill’s testimony about “the fax machine” was particularly memorable, and that at the

time, his testimony had been “the talk of the day.” See Dallas Observer “Unfair Park” Blog,

“More Delicious Corruption Trial Leftovers: Juror Says ‘There Was a Lot of Disagreeing,” Fax

Machine Was “the Talk of the Day,” pp. 4-5 (Oct. 19, 2009) (attached as Exhibit A). When the

reporter pressed her on this statement a couple of days later, Ms. Frazier confirmed the influence

of “outside people”:

Reporter: [] You said it was the “talk of the day,” that other jurors felt the same way.
DEFENDANT SHEILA HILL’S MOTION FOR NEW TRIAL BASED ON Page 1
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Juror: Well, I think the public itself. Everybody just made a big deal out of it between
the defendants and the prosecutors. Well, the prosecutors made a big deal out of it. I
guess they took it and ran with it. It was like, “Wow, we got him.” Like I said, it really
wasn’t an issue.

Reporter: When you said it was the talk of the day, it gives the impression that you had
been discussing it with the other jurors. . . .

Juror: Oh, no. No. It was the outside people. I was talking about the public, not the jurors
-- the people in the courtroom, the media, the prosecutors . . .When we went outside to
take breaks or to go to lunch, people kind of elaborated on it. . . .

Reporter: I guess that’s what I’m trying to get at -- how you were understanding it to be
the talk of the day?

Juror: Just hearing people in conversations.

Id. at 11 (emphasis added). When faced with the import of these comments by the reporter,

Frazier tried to backtrack from them. See id. Unfortunately it appears that outside sources

influenced the jury (or, at least, Ms. Frazier).

Additionally, an acquaintance of D’Angelo Lee reported to him that Ms. Frazier spoke

with him about the case and gave opinions about the evidence. See Exhibit B (Declaration of

D’Angelo Lee).

Finally, the Court also discovered a newspaper in the jury room that contained an article

about the trial. While Mrs. Hill did not object to continuing the trial at the time, in light of the

other evidence recently discovered, this is another fact that warrants further investigation.

II.

“The insinuation of outside influences is inimical to the premises upon which our system

of justice rests. As Justice Holmes wrote, ‘The theory of our system is that the conclusion to be

reached in a case will be induced only by evidence and argument in open court, and not by any

outside influence, whether of private talk or public print.’” United States v. Chiantese, 582 F.2d

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974, 978 (5th Cir. 1978) (quoting Patterson v. Colorado, 205 U.S. 454, 462 (1907)). Therefore,

a “presumption of prejudice” will arise when potential outside influence is brought to the

attention of the trial court, and “the failure of the trial judge to hold a hearing constitutes an

abuse of discretion.” Id. at 279.

III.

Accordingly, because of the potential outside influence discussed in this motion, Mrs.

Hill requests that the court declare a mistrial or, alternatively, that an evidentiary hearing be held

to determine whether and to what extent misconduct occurred.1

October 28, 2009 Respectfully submitted,

/s/ Victor D. Vital


Victor D. Vital
State Bar No. 00794798
Jon Mureen
State Bar No. 24060313
BAKER BOTTS L.L.P.
2001 Ross Avenue
Dallas, Texas 75201-2980
Telephone: (214) 953-6500

CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE

This is to certify that on October 28, 2009, I electronically filed the foregoing document

and all parties of records were served view the court’s ECF system.

/s/ Victor Vital


Victor Vital

1
The jurors may be put under oath and questioned at this hearing. See Fed. R. Evid. 606(b) (providing that jurors
may testify in post-verdict evidentiary hearing concerning “whether any outside influence was improperly brought
to bear upon any juror”).
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