Crossing Jordison: A Pellicano Juror Feels Betrayed by System
On Tuesday afternoon Judge Dale Fischer lowered the hammer on three of Anthony Pellicano's convicted co-defendants, and the resulting sentences and handcuffings that each man received brought a sudden finality to this case involving racketeering, wiretapping and conspiracy. Still, the hearing had a post-script, sideshow quality to it. There were no photographers lingering in the hall, no sketch artists scraping away on pads inside Judge Fischer's courtroom, and none of the curious law students, legal clerks or ambitious young prosecutors who'd stopped by during last year's trial.
But Tuesday meant the end of the world for some of those gathered in Room 840 of the Roybal Federal Building. Even for those who thoroughly believed in the guilt of Pellicano and his crew, it was not the easiest thing to watch the defendants' family and friends' crestfallen reactions when sentences were passed down.
"This sentence is ridiculous," says one court spectator, following the 121 months that defendant Ray Turner received. The visitor was no casual court gawker but Elaine Jordison, the woman known during the 2008 RICO trial as Juror No. 7. On the May afternoon when Pellicano and his co-defendants were found guilty, Jordison shared with the L.A. Weekly her thoughts about the trial. Afterward, she would express a surprising sympathy for Pellicano and his family, while complaining of a jury deliberation process that she believed was tilted against acquittal verdicts.
In fact, following the 2008 trial Jordison took the unusual step of contacting the defense lawyers to air charges of juror misconduct. She claimed several jurors had openly expressed their beliefs in the defendants' guilt and that she herself was the target of intimidation by her co-panelists. Her allegations eventually found their way into a letter asking for Judge Fischer to show leniency toward the five men, and at this week's sentencings Jordison was seen hugging the defendants and consoling their family members - and she herself wept as Judge Fischer read out the prison time for each man..
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During breaks between sentencings, Jordison again expressed her unhappiness with the jury panel on which she served.
"There were three jurors," she told the L.A. Weekly, "who could've gone either way - they just didn't care."
Perhaps worse, said Jordison, who lived more than 200 miles away in San Luis Obispo County, the juror to whom she gave a ride home in Thousand Oaks at the end of each week had made up her mind for guilt by the second week. Did Jordison, though, ever feel she needed to remind her car-pooling colleague to keep an open mind?
"No, I just kept quiet," she admitted.
Likewise, she went along and voted for guilty verdicts even though she now claims she didn't believe in the defendants' guilt.
"The foreperson told me we had to find them guilty, it was the law, and I went along."
Jordison said she didn't realize that when, following the reading of the May verdicts to a packed courtroom, jurors were individually polled, she then had the chance to tell the judge she disagreed with the verdicts.
"I had tried to tell the judge during the trial but was told to keep quiet," she said of the deliberations. "Afterward, some of us went up to Ray Turner and told him, 'We know you didn't do the wiretaps.'"
Jordison blamed her panel's lack of balanced, civil dialogue on its foreperson.
"The foreperson didn't preside over anything," Jordison says. "She turned her back to us. One man got mad at me and threw a chair. There was so much juror misconduct."
(In her May, 2008 interview with the Weekly, Jordison spoke of a cordial atmosphere in the jury room, though this past Tuesday she denied saying this.)
During both Tuesday's proceedings and Pellicano's own sentencing hearing last December, co-prosecutor Daniel Saunders made it plain that he didn't think "a juror's second thoughts about the verdict" should have any mitigating impact on the prison time the defendants received.
"I'm tired of Dan Saunders getting up and singling me out," Jordison said Tuesday. "I think he's a joke."
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