Judge Denies Anand Jon Recusal Bid, Sets New Trial Hearing
This morning Judge David Wesley heard arguments from Anand Jon defense lawyer Leonard Levine as to why the entire District Attorney's office should be recused from prosecuting a new trial that the fashion designer's attorneys are seeking -- as well as from investigating why a juror in Jon's trial had contacted Jon's sister, Sanjana.
Jon was convicted in November of 15 counts of sexual assault and one charge of rape. Currently in custody at the Men's Central Jail, he faces a minimum prison sentence of 67 years. He has not been sentenced because his lawyers have raised two explosive charges: that Juror No. 12 had, during and after the trial, contacted the defendant's sister with a mysterious promise to "help" Anand, and that D.A. investigators had crudely prevented a meeting between the juror and Sanajana by intercepting the man moments before their scheduled rendezvous.
Several hearings have been held to learn why the D.A. investigators interrupted the defense's exploratory contact with the rogue juror. Two weeks ago, in a sensational sideshow, Judge Wesley also tried to find out who on the defense team had circulated an online flyer showing nude and semi-nude photos of Jon's accusers -- some of whom were under-aged.
Today Levine said the fact that during these hearings no one on the
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prosecution's side criticized the sabotaging of the defense's attempt
to interview Juror No. 12 (with Sanjana wearing a wire to record their
conversation) showed the entire D.A.'s office had such a vested
commitment to preserving the guilty verdict won by prosecutors Frances
Young and Mara McIlvain that it created what's called a "disabling
conflict of interest".
During Levine's comments and those by
Steven Matthews of the Attorney General's office (which the defense is
calling upon to replace the D.A.'s office), Judge Wesley made it clear
he did not accept the idea that the entire D.A. apparatus was tainted
by the action of a relatively few people, who included Young, McIlvain
(neither of whom addressed the court this morning), a handful of
investigators and senior D.A. officials Richard Doyle and Curtis
Hazell. However, he let it be known he was deeply disturbed by the
investigators' interception of Juror No. 12.
"I am troubled,"
Wesley said, "that the District Attorney stopped this meeting from
taking place. I don't buy the explanation that the meeting could have
Was the driving force behind this to protect the verdict at all costs,
and not to investigate the jurors? This bothers me that they
interferred -- I don't think it was a good idea."
a 50-minute break Wesley returned to announce his decision: As much as
he disliked the D.A.'s investigators' interception of Juror No. 12
before he had a chance to converse with Sanjana Jon Alexander, the
judge found that no laws had been broken and that, besides, a district
attorney should feel a commitment to preserving a verdict.
find no misconduct on behalf of Frances Young and Mara McIlvan," Wesley
said. "There's nothing I've heard in this case that proves the
prosecutors have an axe to grind . . . I find there is no conflict of
interest and the motion to recuse is denied."
May 5 was then set
as the date to begin hearings on the defense motion for a new trial, a
motion that will focus on possible juror misconduct. Juror No. 12,
Lenny Levine assured Wesley, would be subpoened by the defense for
those hearings. Court will resume at 2 p.m. this afternoon to resolve questions about those salacious flyers that had, besides showing Anand
Jon's accusers in various states of undress, included their names and
"I know you weren't responsible for this," Wesley had
angrily told Jon and his lawyers nearly two weeks ago, "but it hurts
the credibility of the defense."
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