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WEST VENTURA COUNTY FOCUS

VENTURA : Courtroom's Jury Problems Abound

August 16, 1995|PAUL ELIAS

Judge Lance Ito thinks he has jury problems? Here is what happened Tuesday in Courtroom 33 at the Ventura County Hall of Justice:

One juror was bounced for misconduct, another accused of continually arriving late for deliberations and a third told the judge that she overheard another juror say the defendant was too attractive to be found guilty.

"I'll tell you, this jury sure is something," said James M. Farley, the attorney defending David Lopez against a murder charge.

The Santa Paula man is accused of shooting to death Pedro Cervera in a bar last year. He pleaded not guilty, and the jury hearing his trial began deliberations on Thursday.

Then the problems began.

One juror has been consistently late, causing friction on the panel and prompting some fellow jurors to complain to Superior Court Judge Charles W. Campbell. Campbell warned the entire jury to be punctual.

Then a juror on Monday wrote Campbell a note saying she overheard another juror talk about the case outside the jury room. The woman told the judge that she overheard her fellow juror say, "He's guilty, no doubt about it," during a break in the trial. The man denied making the statement, but both sides asked the judge to dismiss the man after Campbell ruled that some form of jury misconduct occurred.

The lone remaining alternate was pressed into service, and the jury was ordered to begin its deliberations anew.

Later in the day, another juror told the judge she overheard yet another juror talk over lunch about the defendant being too "good looking to convict."

The woman went on to say that the overheard conversation also compared Farley to Perry Mason and Deputy Dist. Atty. Gregory C. Phillips to Columbo.

Campbell took no further action to remove any more jurors. No alternates are left.

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