Navarro calls for mistrial over jurors' outside break time

 September 14, 2023

Lawyers for Peter Navarro, a Trump aide convicted on contempt charges last week for refusing to comply with a subpoena, moved for a mistrial right after the conviction because of jurors taking an outside break where they may have been exposed to January 6 protesters.

U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta held a hearing on Wednesday and questioned a court security officer about the incident.

A formal motion for a mistrial has not yet been filed, but is likely to be, because of the jurors' alleged encounter with January 6 protesters right after prosecutors had linked Navarro's actions to the events of January 6.

Prosecutors said last week that no protesters were in the area of the exit used by jurors to take an outdoor break, but Navarro's lawyers want to see security camera footage to confirm this.

What happened

Protesters were outside after the verdict was read, however, and were so boisterous that Navarro had a hard time making his statement about the conviction.

Court security officer Rosa Roldan Torres told Mehta during the hearing that jurors had requested to take their break outside to get "fresh air."

Torres said she directed the jurors away from the media with cameras. She remembers seeing a protester but said he didn't interact with jurors.

She was present the entire time the jurors were outside, and no one approached them, she said. They were outside for less than 15 minutes and gave their verdict 20 minutes later.

Starting over?

The judge agreed to let Navarro's attorneys view footage from one inside and one outside camera, as well as a YouTube video that may have been taken by one of the protesters.

The attorneys are hopeful that the footage will show whether jurors did see protesters, which could have influenced their verdict.

A mistrial would force prosecutors to start over in trying Navarro and could lead them to drop the whole thing.

Troubling questions

Navarro said that his counsel is “not accusing anybody of anything” but raising “troubling questions.”

“[The jurors] know there’s all sorts of trials going on, and they’re getting ready to deliver a verdict, and then they come out here. What do you think those people are for, particularly when one [sign] says ‘Peter for Prison?’” Navarro said of the protesters.

Prosecutors said that Navarro's lawyers should have raised their concerns before the verdict so the judge could have questioned the jurors about whether they saw any protesters.

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