[Marxism] Jury Room Scandal in Hamid Hayat "terrorism" case

Brian Shannon Brian_Shannon at verizon.net
Fri Apr 28 09:01:53 MDT 2006

On the same day that the son was convicted, his father's case was  
declared a mistrial (whether he lied about his son), with the jury  
split evenly.

Brian Shannon


By Denny Walsh
Sacramento Bee
April 28, 2006

A woman on the jury that convicted a Lodi man of terrorism has  
alleged improprieties and inappropriate conduct on the part of some  
jurors, according to an affidavit filed late Thursday in Sacramento  
federal court.

In the document, Arcelia Lopez says her vote to convict Hamid Hayat  
was coerced by foreman Joseph Cote and other jurors.

The affidavit was obtained by defense investigator James Wedick and  
submitted by defense lawyer Wazhma Mojaddidi in support of an as-yet- 
unfiled motion for a new trial of Hayat.

"I cried several times during deliberations," Lopez says in the  
affidavit. "My health and physical well-being were being affected by  
the pressure from the other jurors to change my vote.

"I was emotional during the reading of the verdict and when the jury  
was polled I responded to the court that I agreed with the verdict,"  
Lopez says in the affidavit submitted to U.S. District Court Judge  
Garland E. Burrell Jr.

"In fact, I did not. I never believed Hamid Hayat was guilty. My  
fellow jurors knew it, and as a result of changing my vote, a  
unanimous verdict was reached. I deeply regret my decision."

A 23-year-old cherry packer of Pakistani descent, Hayat was found  
guilty Tuesday after a 10-week trial of providing material support to  
terrorists by undergoing training in Pakistan and returning to Lodi  
11 months ago prepared to wage violent jihad against U.S. citizens.

Hayat, who faces a maximum of 39 years in prison, also was found  
guilty of lying to conceal the training and his intentions when he  
was first questioned by the FBI. Later, in a videotaped interview, he  
said he received training at a Pakistani camp.

Lopez, a Sacramento nurse, says in the affidavit that, on more than  
one occasion, she saw Cote gesture as if he was tying a rope around  
his neck and pulling it tight and then say, "Hang him," in reference  
to Hayat.

"Mr. Cote continued to make this gesture many times throughout the  
trial inside the jury room while communicating with fellow jurors,"  
Lopez says.

She said Cote, a military veteran and retired salesman from Folsom,  
was "being openly unfair about his position in discussion with fellow  

"I was offended by Mr. Cote's behavior while the remaining jurors  
didn't appear to be bothered by it," Lopez says.

"The woman's delusional," Cote said in a telephone interview late  
Thursday. "I don't recall doing anything like that," he said of the  
hanging gesture. "It would be highly inappropriate."

Lopez accuses Cote of making racial slurs.

"As an example," she says in the affidavit, "on one occasion during  
deliberations he said in front of the entire group that they all look  
alike. If you put them in the same costume then they all look alike."

Cote said he was referring to the testimony of paid FBI informant  
Naseem Khan that he saw three of the world's most wanted terrorists  
in and around the Muslim mosque when he was living in Lodi in the  
late 1990s. The identifications were discounted by the FBI and  
terrorism experts.

Cote said some of the jurors misunderstood his remarks.

Two jurors - Teresa Berkeley-Simmons, an African American, and Jason  
Spann, who is white - told Cote his comments were "insulting and  
inappropriate" and "pretty bad," Lopez says in the affidavit. Neither  
Berkeley-Simmons nor Spann could be reached Thursday night.

After Spann interceded, Lopez says, Cote agreed to apologize to  
Berkeley-Simmons. He later apologized to Lopez, who is Latina, she  
says in the affidavit.

"The apology was awkward in that he got right up to my face less than  
a foot away and made his apology, which was very uncomfortable," she  

At the start of the trial, Burrell instructed the jury not to read  
news stories or watch or listen to news reports about the trial.

Yet, according to Lopez, she saw a copy of The Bee in the jury room  
on at least three occasions.

"Impossible," Cote said of that allegation. "Totally, utterly false.  
The San Francisco Chronicle was in there two or three times, but  
there was no content about the trial. I checked it to be sure."

When juror Andrea Clabaugh of Carmichael was replaced about halfway  
through the trial and was interviewed by reporters regarding her  
views of the case, the jurors were interested in finding accounts of  
the interviews, and juror Starr Scacia suggested the Chronicle or The  
Bee, according to Lopez.

"Everybody was disappointed that she (Clabaugh) chose to give an  
opinion about the trial before it had gone to deliberations," Cote  

Scacia, a Roseville resident, said in a telephone interview late  
Thursday that she heard none of the jurors say they read about the  
departed juror.

"My husband told me it was in The Bee with a picture. I told him, 'I  
don't want to know any more,' " Scacia said. She may have mentioned  
The Bee story to her fellow jurors, she said.

"I don't feel anyone was coerced," Scacia said. "I thought we all  
came to a conclusion together."

On another occasion, Lopez says, Cote "shared with jury members that  
he overheard something concerning a media report relating to the trial."

"The information he shared was clearly not something that was  
provided during testimony," Lopez says. "Ms. Berkeley-Simmons said  
that type of conversation should not occur in the jury room.

"Mr. Cote explained that his wife had the TV on in the room next door  
and he happened to hear about the story by accident," Lopez says.

"Mr. Spann supported Ms. Berkeley-Simmons' comment that these types  
of conversations should not occur and Mr. Cote should not be sharing  
them with other members of the jury," Lopez says.

Cote said Thursday the incident "didn't enter into any decision- 
making. It was trivial. I don't even remember what the content was."

By April 21, "I was the only person who felt that Hamid Hayat was not  
guilty based on the evidence," Lopez says in the affidavit.

"Mr. Cote, as the foreman, told the jury that we had to reach a  
verdict and he refused to accept my position. He personally attacked  
me repeatedly as someone who couldn't process the information and who  
just couldn't see that he was guilty because he thought I didn't have  
the mental capacity to understand."

"That's false," Cote said Thursday. "This is terrible. This is really  

On Saturday, Lopez says, she was so stressed she went to a medical  
clinic with "extreme migraine headaches."

In deliberations Monday, Lopez learned Cote had sent a note to  
Burrell the previous Friday saying, "There is impass with a juror who  
does not seem to understand the deliberation process. I'm available  
to discuss this with you and counsel at any time."

When Burrell responded Monday, telling the jury to continue its  
deliberations, Lopez found out about the note and told Cote he had no  
right to send such a note about her on behalf of the jury without her  

"I'm the foreman," she quotes Cote in her affidavit as telling her.  
"I'm in charge. I can do what I want."

Cote said Thursday he doesn't recall the precise exchange.


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