November 3rd, 2008
04:11 PM ET
10 years ago

Juror who vanished from Stevens trial went to California horse race

A juror in the Stevens trial spoke out Monday about her disappearance from the trial.

A juror in the Stevens trial spoke out Monday about her disappearance from the trial.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - A woman who had been a juror in the criminal trial of Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens told a judge Monday she made up a story about her father dying, so she could go to California for a horse race.

The judge last week initially accepted her story about a family emergency, but was later unable to reach her to learn when she would return.

He then was forced to recall an alternate juror so the panel could resume deliberations on October 27 and possibly render a verdict. Six hours later, the verdict against Stevens was unanimously guilty on all seven counts of making false statements on Senate financial documents.

The fate of the missing juror was in doubt through the middle of last week, when U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan issued an order calling her to a hearing Monday morning.

At the hearing, she was publicly identified as Marian Hinnant, known during the trial as Juror No. 4. Hinnant's attorney, public defender A.J. Kramer, told CNN the story about her father's death was a lie.

Kramer said he told the judge that "she was okay, that her father had not died, and that she was in a state of mind where she had to go out of town on that Friday and couldn't deliberate."

Kramer said Sullivan asked his client to elaborate and that Hinnant said she had to go to horse racing's Breeders' Cup. She then began to go "off-topic," as Kramer described it, and the judge cut her off when it became clear the woman was distracted.

"Well, you wouldn't have been able to deliberate," Sullivan concluded at the hearing, according to a court official who attended and later described his remarks to CNN.

The judge then asked whether there were any questions from Stevens' lawyers or the prosecutors. Neither side wanted to pursue the matter at the hearing, but the judge invited both sides to file any papers expressing concerns related to the case.

The judge again said to Hinnant, "I'm thoroughly convinced you would not have been able to deliberate," indicating his decision to appoint an alternate juror had been wise.

"I feel bad about missing the last day or two of the trial," Hinnant said following Monday's hearing. "I do not feel bad about going to California."

Hinnant said she would have voted guilty.

"At that time we were going through the case, and we were deciding whether or not he was guilty on each count," she said. "And we all came up with, well most of us came up with, the same verdict. But to me he wasn't any more guilty than any other congressmen or senators in Washington, D.C., or in
the states."

Hinnant said she bought her ticket to the Breeder's Cup last spring and "didn't think the trial was going to last as long as it did."

"I couldn't think of a, well, on Thursday afternoon, they'd not finished deliberating, so I thought by then we would be through, and I came home and I thought, 'Well, I'm going,'" she said. "My plane leaves at 6 o'clock in the morning, so I called him (the judge) up and told him my father died, in

Sullivan closed the matter without any punishment against the woman for her absence.

Stevens has asked for a hearing in February where the judge would review any motions to appeal or otherwise challenge the verdict. He has remained free since the convictions, and is in a tight re-election campaign in Alaska ahead of Tuesday's vote.

Filed under: Ted Stevens
soundoff (54 Responses)
  1. roy -IL

    Maybe she was taking a 12 hour plane ride after her water broke to get home to San Diego...the race just happened to be on the way!!

    Terrible juror conduct but CORRECT VERDICT for this longtime thief and bane to the Senate.

    November 3, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  2. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    Of course, the GOP and Steves would have you believe that he would have received a different verdict if this juror was there, right!

    Yeah, right!!!!!

    November 3, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  3. Scott NYC Independent

    Seems to me the pay off money wasn't enough

    November 3, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  4. Winnie Hussein . . . in Montana

    Stevens probably gave her some cash to leave town in the hopes of getting a mistrial.

    November 3, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  5. Larry Robinson in Belton TX

    Juror #4 was better off away, but should be fined or something. I wonder if her horse won? And she is right about DC folks. Old Jefferson and company never intended for legal bribery and fraud to control this country we claim is based on truth and democracy.

    November 3, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  6. Lilarose in Bandon, Oregon

    Geez, is this what it's like in Alaska?

    I would hope the residents there aren't this irresponsible, even if their governor is.

    Here in Oregon this juror would be doing time behind bars herself for several infractions against the court.

    How in heck do we teach our kids responsibility when we have jurors behaving this way?

    November 3, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  7. Vegas

    I imagine the race was more interesting than the trial...

    What's really funny is Stevens will get re-elected... crazy I know... but like the Kennedy's etc... once their in so long... people seem to vote on memory or something... sad... but true

    November 3, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  8. Danny G. Boca Raton, FL

    no punishment? how does that teach a lesson to people about civic duty? she should at least be made to pay a fine... ridiculous!

    she should have let the court know that she had a conflict of schedule before the trial started (especially if she had the tickets in her possession that long before the envent).

    Bad Citizen...

    November 3, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  9. Peter (CA)

    This is the problem with the jury system in this country. I get called to jury duty regularly and when I see who is typically in the pool, I thank God I do not have to rely on these people to judge me.
    The smart ones come up with excuses to get out of duty. Everyone else who is not so fortunate is often uninterested or angry for being left in the pool.

    November 3, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  10. Peter

    What a pointless excuse to leave for a case this important

    November 3, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  11. Roberta Soolook

    I'm a displaced Alaskan. I lived there for 38 years. Let me tell you, from an Alaskan standpoint, there's a possibility that Ted Stevens will be re-elected. Because like Ms Hinant said, he's no more corrupt than any other Senator or Congressman.

    November 3, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  12. MissMarple

    If she isn't charged with at least a misdemeanor, she should be. What she did is unconscionable. A jury of one's peers is one of the bedrocks of our judicial system and should be held sacrosanct. A good flogging should do the trick.

    November 3, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  13. Michael M, Phoenix AZ

    Was the juror a Republican?

    November 3, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  14. Suspicious mind

    Somehow, I think there's more behind this than a "horserace." Maybe there is another, undisclosed motive.

    November 3, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  15. GA Independent

    What is it about Alaska that turns them into criminals or loons or both? It's apparently catching in DC! Call CDC!

    November 3, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  16. Precious Coker

    Why do these crazy stories come out of Alaska?

    Maybe the cold and too much moose meat has some kind of crazy effect, who knows?

    Horse race in California? this juror no. 4 needs a horse kick in her behind!!!!

    November 3, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  17. worker bee

    Went to California, but needs a public defender ? HUH !

    November 3, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  18. mike

    I wonder if she won any money?

    November 3, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  19. Tj oh

    Ken in NC is exactly right

    The judge won't send her to jail because it would be an outrage if she serves time while the guilty Senator never serves one day in prison. Since he is a Senator he will probably never serve any time at all. It is pathetic.

    November 3, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  20. Craig - Hastings, MN

    Is anybody actually surprised by this behavior. They shouldn't be. After all we are taught "Me First" from the day we're born. Just another example the decay in our society.

    November 3, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  21. Gene

    You know.. in most courts that would be considered contempt of court.. or in this case it could go as far as obstruction of justice. This woman should be fined or something.. that's ridiculous to leave in the middle of a trial to go watch horse races. I could understand if she was the breeder and they were racing her horses.. but she's just a spectator.

    I hope she gets a hefty fine.

    November 3, 2008 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  22. Rob R

    This is sad; an example of the almost total disregard for personal responsibility that's pervasive in our society. Immature, self-centered behavior. Again, sad.

    November 3, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  23. California Gold

    Palin, Stevens and now a juror who flies to the lower 48 to go to the pony races and lies to a judge about a death in her family? What is it with people in Alaska??? Is it a requirement to have an exaggerated sense of entitlement to live there?

    November 3, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  24. Robert in raleigh

    She needs to be locked up with stevens , they can lie to each other..

    November 3, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  25. Brian

    Absolutely Ridiculous! This woman must be bonkers to think that a horse race is more important than serving her civic duty. This has to be some sort of crime, I hope she signed an affidavit stating that her father was dead.

    November 3, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
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