Saturday, August 4, 2007
From brownsvilleherald.com: Texas Tech CrimProf Dan Benson and University of Texas CrimProf George Dix discuss the legality of inmate Sostenes Morales contacting Juror Edgar Cantu who was one of the jurors who convicted Morales of murdering the man’s wife.
Texas Tech University CrimProf Dan Benson who specializes in criminal procedure, said juror information is confidential during an ongoing trial.
But because Morales contacted Cantu after the trial and did not threaten him in the letter, no laws were broken.
“There’s really no prohibition against it,” Benson said. “The jurors are not precluded from talking with someone about a case after it’s over.”
CrimProf George Dix said it’s possible that Morales obtained Cantu’s information from the case records the court kept.
“Sometimes, a defendant will have access to the record — he may act as lawyer, he may have it for a number of reasons,” Dix said.
But even if Cantu responded to the letter — something he said he doesn’t plan to do — his testimony could not be used in Morales’ appeal, Dix said.
“Information from a juror is almost certainly going to be of no legal significance,” he said. “The thought process of the jurors are not matters of which they are admitted to testify about. The ball is in his court" Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]