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Shortly after a Houston jury delivered its guilty verdict in the Arthur Andersen trial, the jurors began to talk to the press about their obstruction-of-justice finding. Jury foreman Oscar Criner, a professor of computer science at Texas Southern University, revealed his intention to write a book about the Andersen/Enron scandal. Other jurors griped to the press that his note-taking during deliberations slowed the process down. Though there is no evidence of it, his fellow jurors’ allegations raise questions about whether Criner’s book ambitions influenced the deliberations or verdict because of his hopes for a successful and lucrative book deal. While legal experts are uncomfortable with jurors’ intent to profit from their experience, few believe there is much of a legal avenue to prevent jurors from profiting after the trial. Criner said that the subject of financial scandals has interested him since the early 1960s and that while the idea of a book was one that had occurred to him early on in the process, it wasn’t foremost in his mind during the trial. He asserted that his note-taking was not done in anticipation of a book, but to manage a lot of material in a complicated trial. Criner is not the first juror to cash in on the experience. Jurors in the Bernard Goetz, O.J. Simpson and the Menendez brothers cases have spurred an interest in whether “jurors’ journalism” is corrupting the legal process. In the Georgia murder trial involving the Dekalb County sheriff accused of murdering his political rival, the state’s star witness, jailer Patrick Cuffy, testified that he had been approached about a book deal that was dependent on a conviction. As much as they don’t like the smell of such involvement, legal experts know of no cases where publication ambitions, particularly of a juror, who ultimately helps decide the case, have changed a verdict. At least two states — New York and New Jersey — have laws that specifically prohibit jurors from negotiating book or movie deals before a verdict has been reached. Tom Munsterman, the director of the center for jury studies at the National Center for State Courts in Washington, D.C., noted that the juror’s right to publish is guaranteed under the First Amendment. Munsterman and others note that it would be difficult for a defense lawyer to prove there was prejudicial influence by the juror. Any such effort would likely result at best in a ruling of “harmless error.” The center, which came out with a book about managing notorious cases, recommends that potential jurors be questioned in voir dire about any personal intentions they may have. Criner said no one ever asked.

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