On February 20, Vice News published an explosive account about one of Chapo’s jurors alleging serious misconduct by the jury that convicted El Chapo. The article by Keegan Hamilton, one of the Twitter sources to my book; “Convicting Chapo, Naked and Afraid – the Trial to Convict El Chapo” (link) interviewed one of the anonymous Chapo jurors. What Hamilton published is not only explosive, but it is already the basis for a serious challenge to Chapo’s conviction that may result in a new trial for El Chapo.
According to Hamilton’s article titled; “Inside El Chapo’s Jury: A Juror Speaks For First Time About Convicting The Kingpin,” a juror reached out to Vice to share their trial experiences. The jurors in the Chapo trial were anonymous for fear that they could be harmed by Chapo’s henchmen.
Keegan wrote that the juror, who refused to provide their real name, was verified by Keegan Hamilton to be an actual juror because he recognized the juror from a video chat the reporter held with the juror. Hamilton attended the trial and although the jury was anonymous, their faces were clearly visible to the reporters covering the trial and anyone else in the courtroom.
According to Hamilton’s article, there was one stubborn juror, a woman, who held up the verdict for six days. Also, according to the juror that Hamilton interviewed, some of the jurors were bothered by El Chapo having to spend the rest of his life in solitary confinement.
But the most explosive thing about Hamilton’s article is that the juror alleges that “at least five” of the jurors violated the prohibition to avoid looking at news coverage of the trial before rendering their verdict. The jurors could go home at the end of the day.
During the trial there was at least one instance when the judge asked each juror if they had seen any news coverage of the trial because there were concerns that they became aware of evidence that they were not shown at trial. They were already deliberating when the court unsealed a document that shows one witness, along with collaboration, that El Chapo molested children as young 13 years old.
There was also an allegation, also collaborated, that El Chapo had raped one of the witnesses that testified against him at trial. These allegations were never shown to the jury and only came out after they were already deliberating.
However, the explosive evidence made the rounds through Twitter and on subsequent news reports. In a later post this week, I’ll share how I used to Twitter to cover the trial. Keegan Hamilton’s Twitter post was one of them. For now, according to Hamilton’s report, the juror knew that the judge would question the jurors about the news coverage of the evidence the jury did not see because of a Twitter post made by Keegan about it.
Allegedly, jurors were prepared to answer the judge’s questions about their exposure to news items that had seen.
Other information in the Vice News report is that, according to the juror, some of the jurors in the case had already made up their minds before the presentation of the evidence had concluded. According to Hamilton, some jurors had “their minds made up,” while others “weren’t sure,” and still others looked for ways to find El Chapo “innocent” of the charges.
Already the defense team has signaled they will seek a new trial based on jury misconduct due to the Vice article. Whether they succeed is yet to be seen. However, the allegations put the trial in doubt as to the fairness of the system giving the Chapo mystic even more power.
The evidence was overwhelming. The murders are real. Many people across México and America have paid the ultimate prize for Chapo’s reign of violence. That there are Americans who feel badly for El Chapo spending the rest of his life in a cell by himself is disheartening to me and a slap across the face of the families of those killed or maimed by Chapo and his sicarios.
That some jurors didn’t care because they had already served on too many trials put the American jury system on display as to why the idea that it is the best in the world is hogwash. In tomorrow’s post I’ll share with you what bothered me about the Chapo trial and why it proves, again, that American trials are a sham clearly disguised as serious adjudications of criminality.