The case of Richard W. Miller, the only FBI agent ever charged with espionage, was placed in the hands of a jury today with an unusually stern warning against communicating with bailiffs, days after allegations of jury tampering threatened to reverse San Diego Mayor Roger Hedgecock's felony conviction.
U.S. District Judge David Kenyon gave the six men and six women of the jury two hours of instructions on the law, emphasizing definitions of criminal intent, explanations of the espionage laws and exactly what jurors must decide to find Miller either innocent or guilty.
He added an unusually stern admonition that jurors are not to communicate anything about their deliberations to the bailiffs who are guarding them.
His remarks were apparently motivated by allegations of jury tampering in the Hedgecock trial. Two jurors have accused a bailiff of improperly communicating with jurors who convicted Hedgecock of perjury and conspiracy.
"People will occasionally become friendly with the bailiffs," Kenyon said, but he warned the jurors that any improper communication would be immediately reported to the judge.
"Once you start talking, you are incommunicado with the rest of the world," Kenyon told the jurors.
Miller, clad in a light blue suit, sat reading along with the judge's instructions and sipping water at the counsel table.
A number of the instructions addressed the question of intent in different words--whether Miller did certain things "knowingly and willfully."
Miller, 48, is charged with conspiracy, three counts of espionage and three counts of bribery for allegedly giving Svetlana Ogorodnikova a secret FBI document titled, "Reporting Guidance: Foreign Intelligence Information." He faces life in prison if convicted.
Kenyon reminded the jurors that they must not draw any inference at all from the fact that Miller never testified in his own defense.
Among the elements the jury must find before it can convict Miller are that he acted with reason to believe that the documents he allegedly passed could be used to harm the United States or to benefit a foreign government, Kenyon said.
The panel must also find before a conviction that he knew Ogorodnikova was an agent of a foreign government.