Thursday, September 18, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Jury Controversy Brewing In Chris Wright Corruption Trial?

Tom Bergstrom, attorney for Ravinder Chawla in a City Hall corruption trial, just told U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno that one of the jurors may be a problem. Bergstrom suggested the juror might not be fair.

Jury Controversy Brewing In Chris Wright Corruption Trial?

Tom Bergstrom, attorney for Ravinder Chawla in a City Hall corruption trial, just told U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno that one of the jurors may be a problem.  Bergstrom suggested the juror might not be fair.

“If it’s true that this juror has made up her mind, that she’s not being fair or impartial, then we need to find that out," Bergstrom said.

Robreno then started testimony for the day, with Chawla on the stand in his own defense.  Chawla and his brother, Hardeep, and their attorney, Andy Teitelman, are accused of bribing Chris Wright, City Councilman Jack Kelly's chief of staff.

The juror in question is now listening to testimony.  An alternate juror was dismissed last week, apparently because the trial was becoming an economic hardship for her.

UPDATE, 12 pm:  Defense attorneys filed a motion today -- you can read it here -- asking the judge to question the juror.  The juror appeared to be nodding off during some testimony last week.  Defense attorneys also say she has been glaring at them and their clients and laughing at times into the hood of her sweatshirt during some testimony.

Judge Robreno has not acted on the motion so far.  The juror in question seems much more alert today, almost sitting on the edge of her seat. She's wearing another sweatshirt but PhillyClout has not seen her laughing into her hood.

UPDATE, 2 p.m.:  Bergstrom just told PhillyClout that the judge, who met for about 30 minutes in chambers with attorneys for the defense and prosecution, denied his motion to question the juror about her actions during the trial.

Judge Robreno just recounted some of his instructions to the jury -- asking them to keep an open mind, avoid discussing the case and to stay away from any media accounts of the trial.

About this blog
Chris Brennan, a native Philadelphian and graduate of Temple University, joined the Daily News in 1999. He has written about SEPTA, the Philadelphia School District, the legalization of casino gambling, state government, the mayor, the governor, City Council and political campaigns. E-mail tips to brennac@phillynews.com
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Jenny DeHuff is a 2005 graduate of the University of Rhode Island, where she cut her teeth in journalism. A South Philly transplant from New England, she joined the Daily News City Hall Bureau in 2013. For the past several years, she has worked as an investigative reporter exposing corruption in suburban politics, covering sometimes ghastly criminal court cases and following the people’s money and how its spent. In addition to being a dogged news hound, she enjoys reading and writing about travel, animals, Irish whiskey and aviation. E-mail tips to dehuffj@phillynews.com
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Sean Collins Walsh is from Bucks County and went to Northwestern University. He joined the Daily News copy desk in 2012 and now covers the Nutter administration. Before that, he interned at papers including The New York Times, The Dallas Morning News and The Seattle Times. E-mail tips to walshSE@phillynews.com
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