Four more Philadelphians who repeatedly dodged jury duty found themselves before a judge Wednesday: one voluntarily and three after getting an early morning escort by court warrant officers who arrested them.
According to Philadelphia Jury Commissioner Daniel A. Rendine, all four people were among those subpoenaed to appear in the city’s new Juror Scofflaw Court on May 21. None showed up and bench warrants were issued for their arrest.
Rendine said one of the four surrendered last week and spent the day in jail before returning Wednesday to plead guilty before Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey P. Minehart, who added a $50 fine. The other three pleaded guilty and were fined $100 before being led to a cell for the rest of the day.
It looks as if Anthony Nicodemo’s retrial in the alleged Dec. 12, 2012 slaying of Gino DiPietro won’t be happening until early next year.
At a status conference last Thursday, Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey P. Minehart scheduled a new pretrial conference for Dec. 1 but the retrial – Nicodemo’s first trial ended May 20 in a mistrial amid rumors someone approached a juror – did not get a firm date. The trial had already lost two alternate jurors because of exposure to pretrial publicity when juror number eight was dismissed, bringing the panel down to 11. Although a criminal trial may continue with 11 jurors, both sides must agree and, in the case of the 42-year-old reputed mob soldier, they didn’t.
Assistant District Attorney Brian Zarallo said there is an ongoing investigation into possible jury tampering although no one has been charged.
The son of West Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell didn’t look far to find a lawyer after his arrest last week in the alleged burglary of a neighbor's house in which he was shot and seriously wounded.
Center City criminal defense lawyer Jack McMahon, who represented Kermit Gosnell in last year’s murder trial in the slayings of infants born alive during illegal late-term abortions, on Wednesday entered his appearance as attorney for Barron Alexander, 22.
McMahon could not be reached for comment but in the past has sympathized with the plight of the children of the notorious owner of the Women’s Medical Society clinic at 3801 Lancaster Ave. Barron Alexander Gosnell legally dropped his surname last year after he complained that the Gosnell name was preventing him from getting internships and possible jobs while studying at Cheyney University.
It’s probably not an anniversary he wanted to commemorate, but Rev. Andrew McCormick’s retrial on child sex-assault charges has been set for Feb. 23 – two days short of one year from the start of the ill-starred trial that ended March 12 with a hung jury.
McCormick, 58, was back in court Thursday before Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Gwendolyn N. Bright, accompanied by his new lawyer, Trevan Borum. Borum agreed to represent McCormick after his previous defense attorney, William J. Brennan Jr., withdrew after the jury deadlocked and Bright declared a mistrial.
Assistant District Attorney Kristen Kemp objected to McCormick hiring Borum because Borum’s trial schedule made it impossible for him to defend the priest at any trial before next year. Borum said he begins a six-week federal trial in Allentown on Oct. 6 and a capital murder trial in Philadelphia on Jan. 26.
Last Wednesday, 92 people were summoned to appear in Philadelphia’s revived Juror Scofflaw Court to explain why they had not reported two or more times when called for jury duty. It’s a problem that Philadelphia court officials say has reached a crisis point: of almost 700,000 to be called for jury duty this year, only about 13 percent will show up.
Probably the best illustration of the problem is that a third of those ordered to appear in scofflaw court – you guessed it – did not show up. Warrants for their arrest have been issued and when they next appear, in custody, they could be fined up to $500 and spend up to 10 days in jail for contempt of court. Court officials hope the revival of a tactic last used 14 years ago, will encourage people to recognize that reporting for jury duty is not just their duty as U.S. citizens but in their best interest.
Of course, some people don’t need an arrest warrant. They were lauded May 15 during a “Juror Appreciation Day” by former Governor Edward G. Rendell; Philadelphia Municipal Court President Judge Marsha H. Neifield; Common Pleas Court President Judge Sheila Woods-Skipper; several other judges and members of various legal organizations.
With two weeks to go before the judge’s deadline, the Rev. Andrew McCormick has found a new lawyer to represent him in his retrial on charges he sexually assaulted a 10-year-old altar boy in 1997 when he was at St. John Cantius church in Bridesburg.
Center City criminal defense lawyer Trevan Borum confirmed Wednesday that he will represent McCormick, 58, in the retrial. Borum said he will formally enter his appearance at a May 29 status hearing on the case before Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Gwendolyn N. Bright.
If Borum’s name is familiar to some, it may be because he had been hired by retired Catholic priest Robert Brennan. Brennan, 76, was charged with raping a boy from ages 11 to 14 who was a member of the “altar guild” at the Resurrection of Our Lord parish school in Rhawnhurst. The criminal charges were dismissed after the 26-year-old alleged victim died of an accidental drug overdose on Oct. 13.
It’s not clear where or when Antorie Coates and Alida Maria Cruz were shot to death or if anyone saw William Deputy do it.
But Deputy is on the hook for it, courtesy of several security cameras that allegedly show Deputy, 36, pouring gasoline into a Ford Windstar van parked in the 2200 block of Orthodox Street in East Frankford in the predawn hours of Feb. 22. When firefighters extinguished the blaze, they found the charred bodies of Coates, 35, and Cruz, 30, inside.
That was enough for Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge Karen Y. Simmons, who on Wednesday held Deputy for trial on two counts of murder, arson and related charges.
No question but that Catholic priest Andrew McCormick had one of the region’s most respected criminal defense lawyers for his trial in March for allegedly sexually assaulting a 10-year-old altar boy in 1997 at St. John Cantius church in Bridesburg.
Now, more than a month after the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court jury deadlocked in its deliberations, it seems lawyer William J. Brennan Jr. may be irreplaceable.
On Monday, McCormick, 57, was supposed to tell Judge Gwendolyn N. Bright the name of the lawyer who will represent him in the retrial. Instead, McCormick told the judge he was still lawyer-less although the reasons why were not explained.