We previously took a look here at what went on inside the jury at the Holy Land Foundation trial. Now the Investigative Project on Terrorism has posted Michael Fechter’s fasinating report (and accompanying video) on the “bullying” that took place during deliberations.
Fechter’s report is based on interviews with three jurors other than William Neal, the juror who apparently dominated the deliberations. The deliberations appear to have been compomised by Neal, a prosecutor’s nightmare of a juror. The case resulted in a mistrial when some of the jurors disavowed the verdict read by the court. IPT provides this introduction to Fechter’s report:
After a mistrial was declared in the terrorism-financing trial against the Hamas-linked Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF), the Investigative Project on Terrorism launched an investigation into the bizarre circumstances which led to the even stranger result.
Three HLF jurors, speaking publicly for the first time, challenge the assessment of the case offered by William Neal. To them, Neal was bent on winning acquittals and dismissed any evidence they considered relevant.
Among the jurors’ comments:
— Arguments for conviction met with immediate scorn and ridicule by Neal. He repeatedly raised his voice, cursed or otherwise belittled other jurors for what they said. A handful of jurors called for an immediate break after Neal hollered “f*** your opinion” to a female juror.
— Despite Neal’s public pronouncements that no evidence was presented against the defendants during the trial, he refused to look at, and discouraged discussion of, most exhibits during the deliberations, including important and incriminating videos.
— Juror Kristina Williams describes the emotional toll 19 days of intense deliberations had on her life: “When I’d get off the jury I’d come home every night and basically cry because I felt like every time I spoke I would get knocked down, criticized, one way or the other for something pertaining to the way I voted.”
We knew something unusual must have been going on inside the jury room. Fechter’s report goes a long way toward explaining what that was.
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