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Paula Thompson is a graphic designer by trade, but after two weeks as a juror on a criminal case, she became a guardian angel — to the defendant. Thompson, the sole holdout when a deadlock was declared after three days of deliberations, put up $2,500 of her own money as bail so that the defendant, Calvin Baker, who was accused of selling a $10 bag of drugs, could have his freedom until his retrial, which is scheduled to start at the end of the month. Baker’s court-appointed lawyer, Leonard J. Levenson, said that in his 35 years as defense lawyer, he had never heard of a juror putting up bail money for a defendant. Neither apparently had the trial judge, Justice Marcy L. Kahn, who invited the prosecutor, Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Kenneth J. Chalifoux, to conduct an investigation as to whether there was any improper contact between Thompson and Baker. Chalifoux said that any investigation was unnecessary, Levenson told the Law Journal. Barbara Thompson, a spokeswoman for the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, said that Chalifoux would have no comment. Rather than letting the case go to a retrial on April 30 as she had originally scheduled after declaring a mistrial last month, Justice Kahn ordered Baker to appear in court a week ago, on Monday, April 9, for a bail hearing. On April 9, after a brief weekend of freedom, another judge, Acting Justice Bonnie G. Wittner, raised Baker’s bail to $10,000, and he was returned to jail to await the start of his trial, rescheduled for May 7. In raising bail, Wittner said it was “against public policy” for a juror to post bail for a defendant. And in any event, since Baker has no tie whatsoever to Thompson the juror, Justice Wittner reasoned that $2,500 was an insufficient amount to assure his return to court, Levenson said. Levenson asserted that Baker had made more than an adequate showing of his willingness to return to court by attending the accelerated bail hearing ordered by Justice Kahn. Baker had already been released on bail when the hearing was ordered, Levenson said, but responded to a message about the court date that had been left with Baker’s brother. Baker, who did not testify at his trial two weeks earlier, gave Wittner a piece of his mind when she raised the bail and had to be escorted back to the courtroom holding cell by several court officers, a courtroom observer said. If convicted, Baker will be sentenced as a predicate felon and faces a maximum sentence of 12-1/2 to 25 years. Thompson, who has never served on a jury before, said it was not until several days after the two-week trial ended on March 29 that she discovered that Baker had been held in jail on $2,500 bail for 15 months before his case came to trial. Thompson said she initially called Levenson to ask if Baker would be receptive if she could find a job for him. During that conversation, Thompson said she was “very surprised to learn that only $2,500 stood between Mr. Baker’s being free and his being in jail for 15 months.” “I’m a middle-class person,” she added, “$2,500 is a significant amount of money, but it is not my life savings — it’s a two-week vacation.” Baker was arrested on the strength of a police officer’s testimony that he had observed him sell a $10 bag of heroin on 127th Street. After the arrest, the officers claimed they found other drugs in a nearby “stash” apartment that were linked to Baker. TENSIONS MOUNT With the sole exception of Thompson, the jury, which consisted of 10 whites and two Hispanics, concluded after about two hours that Baker was guilty, Thompson recalled. Over the next three days, until Justice Kahn declared a mistrial, the deliberations turned “personal” with the other members of the jury “calling me every name in the book,” Thompson said. Although the jury was not sequestered, the tensions mounted, and other jurors taunted her, Thompson said, asking her, “why I couldn’t hold a job” and “why I didn’t have any friends.” Explaining her holdout position, Thompson said, “I care that someone who is innocent be found to be innocent.” She added that she felt the case against Baker was “flimsy.”

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