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New Trial for Attorney Convicted of Refco Fraud
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It was announced on Monday by the Second Circuit that an ex-partner for Mayer Brown LLP , who has been issued a prison sentence of seven years, is entitled to a new trial. The sentencing was the result of the former partner working on a $2.4 billion scheme for fraud at Refco Inc. The reason the partner is being permitted a new trial is the fact that the judge mishandled the jury.

“When a supplemental instruction is given ex parte, without first consulting counsel, it violates a defendants’ right to be present,” U.S. Circuit Judge Denny Chin said in the opinion written for the court.

  
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The conviction, which was handed down by the Southern District of New York, was vacated by a three-judge panel. The panel said that the court violated lawyer Joseph P. Collins’ rights by holding a conference in private with notifying counsel. The conference occurred with one juror who reportedly received threats from another person on the jury.

The juror who did not agree with the rest of the jury was juror number four. The fourth juror wrote a letter and sent it to the court to say he was threatened to have his finger cutoff by another juror. He also wrote that he felt he was being forced to agree with other jury members’ opinions about the case. The opinion also said that a note to the court from the jury foreman said juror number four offered to buy his vote.

The problems involving the jury arose back in July of 2009 when jury members told the court that there were struggles when coming arriving at a unanimous decision.

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These notes were not read into the record by U.S. District Judge Robert P. Patterson. Instead, the judge convened a private meeting with the fourth juror to emphasize how important the resolution of the case would be, according to Judge Chin.

“We cannot ignore the possibility that Juror 4 walked out of the ex parte conference with the impression that he should not stand in the way of a prompt resolution of the case,” was written by the judge.



It was decided by the Second Circuit panel that this meeting was considered an additional teaching of the juror and it could have aided in the opinion of the juror who holds a small opinion.

The conviction was handed down to Collins in March of 2010 because he helped Refco hide millions in debt and liabilities. After the jury found him guilty of conspiracy on one count, securities fraud on two counts, and wire fraud on two counts, he was sentenced to seven years in prison.

It was said by Judge Chin that Judge Patterson is a competent judge who was working to manage the problem as best as he could but simply called a meeting too early. The entire problem could have been avoided if the court had shown counsel the note and asked for input.

Information researched from The Chicago Tribune and Thomson Reuters.



 

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