After hearing testimony for weeks (jury selection began in June), the jury deliberating whether four men were plotting to bomb synagogues in the Bronx last May was dismissed early yesterday because a juror received inadmissible evidence. Apparently in a packet of transcripts—prepared by the government—there was a conversation between a defendant and his father about entrapment. Federal Judge Colleen McMahon said it was "utterly, completely and totally inadmissible."
While federal prosecutors claims the four defendants were set upon bombing synagogues as well as military planes at a base in Newburgh, the defense said the government entrapped them, using an aggressive government informant. The judge found out about the slip-up when jurors started to send her questions like, "We the jury would like to know if inducement is different than persuasion?", "If it’s entrapment on count No. 1, does that mean all counts are entrapment?", and "What is the definition of persuasion?" The judge questioned the jurors and learned that one of them had the transcript with a defendant discussing entrapment. Plus, the binder of evidence for the jurors had another transcript not entered into evidence, a conversation that a defense lawyer said was "like a confession."
McMahon said she "picked myself up off the floor" when she realized "somebody has made an error.... We don't yet know how bad an error... The government is entirely responsible for the fact that jurors have things in the binder that are not on the list." She said she would work through the Columbus Day holiday to decide what to do.