(ThePatriotWire)- In Cincinnati, the ongoing battle over the cellphone data of a juror in a July corruption case escalated to the US Court of Appeals after the judge in the case refused to allow a forensic examination of the juror’s cellphone.
Former Cincinnati councilman P.G. Sittenfeld was tried in the US District Court for the Southern District of Ohio last month where a jury convicted him on two charges of corruption.
Earlier this month, Judge Douglas Cole refused to permit a forensic examination of the cellphone belonging to “Juror X,” prompting Sittenfeld’s attorneys to take the request to the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
The controversy began on July 8 just before the verdict in Sittenfeld’s case was announced.
A member of the courthouse staff reported that Juror X had been posting on Facebook throughout the trial, despite the judge’s repeated warnings barring jurors from communicating with anyone about the case.
After the verdict was read, the judge permitted lawyers to question Juror X, who admitted she communicated with at least 29 people via social media during the trial. She also accused Juror Y of harboring “a general bias against politicians.” Juror Y was also questioned in a closed-door hearing.
In his decision to refuse a forensic examination of Juror X’s phone, Judge Cole said that although the juror “violated the plain language of the court’s instruction,” he found no proof that Juror X was improperly influenced against the defendant.
In its appeals request, the defense is seeking an emergency order arguing that “the electronic communications at issue are highly likely to be lost or destroyed if not produced immediately.”
Sittenfeld’s lawyers cited in their appeals filing a similar case the Sixth Circuit handled last year when the Appeals Court overturned the convictions of a Tennessee couple over concerns about a juror’s communications and destruction of cellphone data.
Prosecutors were given until Tuesday, August 23 to respond to the defense’s appeal with the decision expected soon after that.