LOS ANGELES — Terry Christensen, the lawyer who recently was convicted on federal wiretapping charges, should not get a new trial on the grounds that a federal judge removed a juror the day before the verdict was reached, according to court papers filed this month by federal prosecutors.
Christensen, the former managing partner of what is now Glaser, Weil, Fink, Jacobs & Shapiro, in Los Angeles, was convicted in August on two counts of wiretapping charges. Prosecutors had alleged that Christensen paid private investigator Anthony Pellicano more than $100,000 to wiretap the phones of Lisa Bonder Kerkorian, the ex-wife of his client, billionaire Kirk Kerkorian, during a high-profile custody dispute.
Soon after jury deliberations began, however, U.S. District Judge Dale Fischer of the Central District of California removed a juror because he had refused to deliberate and had questioned elements of wiretapping laws.
In a motion filed last month, Christensen asserted that he was entitled to a new trial because the juror, who is referred to in court papers as Juror No. 7, had been improperly removed because he disagreed with his fellow jurors on the merits of the case. Christensen also argued, in a separate motion for a new trial, that prosecutors violated their discovery obligations.
In court papers filed this month, prosecutors denied those discovery violations. They also said that Juror No. 7 lied to the court regarding his statements during deliberations, and in voir dire, and said he was unwilling to follow the law. “Both of those grounds are amply supported by the record, and either one is independently sufficient to support Juror No. 7′s dismissal,” the motion states.
Prosecutors also contend that five other jurors verified the statements that Juror No. 7 made during deliberations, such as: “If it’s okay for the Government to wiretap and not get caught, then it’s okay for him.” Juror No. 7 had denied those statements.
Terree Bowers, a partner in the Los Angeles office of Howrey, who represents Christensen, refuted those claims.
“They could not verify his exact words or whether he was simply asking questions. And in any event, if it was a concerted effort to oust him because of his views on the merits, it is absolutely prohibited,” he said.
The government also argued that, under the Federal Rules of Evidence, Christensen should not be allowed to submit declarations of Juror No. 7 and another juror who was not questioned by the court in his attempt to obtain a new trial. But Bowers said those declarations cover the same information that was asked, or would have been asked, of the jurors in open court.
A hearing is set for Oct. 27. Christensen is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 17.
Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, declined to comment.