A Superior Court case in Lee County was declared a mistrial and the remainder of the week’s court cases were continued after a Sanford Police Department officer spoke with a potential juror prior to the trial, potentially tainting the jury pool, the Rant has learned.
Court documents obtained by the Rant show that a prospective juror wrote on Tuesday to Lee County Clerk of Court Susie Thomas and Superior Court Judge Gale Adams to explain that the officer, who was not named, “came into the jury room to thank one particular juror for ‘dropping off breakfast for him from Bojangles.'”
“That particular officer was later listed as a potential witness in trial proceedings in court we were assigned,” the prospective juror wrote. “After the Officer and Juror #6 had a morning verbal exchange in the jury room, they exited to the hall outside the courtroom for whatever reason(s). I did not witness any further discussion(s).”
Prospective jurors are typically instructed not to have any interaction with attorneys, witnesses or others who may be involved in a case they are hearing.
Hugh Moore, the attorney in the case, moved for a mistrial upon the letter’s introduction to the court. Adams granted the motion without any objection from the state and later agreed to continue the remainder of cases on the docket.
The prospective juror closed the letter by thanking the court for its “time/talent/expertise in dealing with an often difficult public” and noting that “many of us sincerely appreciate the work you do … for ALL of us.”
Read the entire letter here. It’s unclear when the cases will be put back on the court calendar.