LaShawn Chapman voted “not guilty” on Thursday along with her fellow Franklin County Municipal Court jurors in a misdemeanor assault case.
Then Chapman went home and cried, not because of the stress of deliberation, but because of what Judge Amy Salerno said to the jury after the verdict.
“(The judge) said, ‘Ninety-nine percent of the time, the jury is correct,'" according to Chapman. "'Now it’s 98 percent. You got this wrong.'
“She berated us,” Chapman, 39, said of the judge. “It was just nasty.”
Four of the eight jurors who decided the case have complained to Administrative Judge James E. Green about how Salerno spoke to them afterward, Green said yesterday.
Salerno criticized the jurors in front of other people in the courtroom, according to the complaints. She also suggested that there would be another opportunity to convict the defendant because he was charged in another case in front of her, according to the jurors.
“Based on what they said to me, I am disturbed at the behavior,” Green said.
He said he has talked to Salerno about what happened. He also plans to talk to the jurors “to try to restore their belief in the system we work in,” he said.
Green could file a complaint with the Ohio Supreme Court’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel, though he would not say whether he will take that step.
In an interview yesterday, Salerno said the verdict had surprised her; she echoed a printed statement she provided to The Dispatch that read: “(I) failed to contain my surprise at this particular meeting (with jurors).”
She and other judges regularly meet with jurors after a verdict to discuss the process, and that is what she did on Thursday, she said.
“I try to treat everyone courteously,” Salerno said yesterday. “If someone found it offensive, I am sorry.”
Joseph McGee, 36, was charged with assault and disorderly conduct in a Nov. 12 incident on the Near East Side. Surveillance video showed him appearing to strike another man. A Columbus police report said that McGee and the other man had an “ongoing feud spanning several years.”
Chapman, the juror, said the men had conflicting stories, and it was hard to tell who to believe.
McGee also has been charged with aggravated menacing, menacing and witness intimidation in another case with the same man.
Salerno was assigned as the judge in that case, but she recused herself after Thursday’s court session. She said yesterday that she did so because some of the same people would be witnesses and it wouldn’t be appropriate for her to hear it.
By Jeb Phillips - The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio (MCT)
©2013 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)
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