by Brian Mahany
A recent appeal stemming from a tax evasion conviction in a Manhattan federal court reveals why it is important to never give up hope. Attorneys Paul Daugardas and Donna Guerin were convicted of numerous tax evasion related charges after a grueling 10 week jury trial earlier this year. Now it turns out that one of the jurors may have lied about her identity.
What’s one juror out of twelve? Everything in our legal system. Criminal defendants have a Constitutional right to be tried by a jury of their peers. Those potential jurors that are not qualified can be excused. A defendant must also be convicted by a unanamous jury. Remove just one juror and its impossible to know how a trial might have turned out.
According to the lawyers for the two on appeal, juror Catherine Conrad lied about her qualifications. She claimed to be a “stay at home” Mom who never went beyond a degree in English. Apparently she is a suspended lawyer who lost her license to practice law because of chemical dependency and professional misconduct. A review panel refused to reinstate her law license because of mental competency issues and because of an active arrest warrant.
That’s not all of Conrad’s problems. Attorneys also say she failed to disclose several criminal convictions including two crimes of dishonesty – theft. She also apparently told cops that her husband was a mafia boss.
She is definitely someone I would not want sitting on a jury that was to decide my fate.
Problems with jurors happen more frequently than most people realize. A good white collar criminal defense lawyer never stops looking for the proverbial skeletons in the closet. Prosecutors sometimes lie. Cops make mistakes. Witnesses frequently lie, sometimes simply to save their own hide. And even jurors lie.
In 2006 I received a mistrial on behalf of a client in a felony drug case after it came to light that a juror didn’t even live in the district. Although many people lie to get off jury duty, some lie to get on a jury. Those folks are often the most biased and worst jurors.
Special praise goes to the prosecutor in this case. Conrad sent him a letter praising the government’s trial team. The lead prosecutor, Stanley Okula, did the right thing and turned over the letter to the court and defense. What that means, however, is that absent the letter, no one may have checked out the background of Conrad.
Good trial lawyers must always remember to check out everyone connected with the case. That includes jurors.
POST SCRIPT – The title of this post is “It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over.” It appears to be over. In June 2014 , Daugardas was sentenced to 15 years in prison after being convicted of many of the original charges.
If you are accused of a serious felony or white collar criminal offense such as money laundering, wire fraud or tax evasion, call us. Our lawyers have defended people across the U.S. including some of the highest profile cases in the country. For a no obligation consultation, contact attorney Brian Mahany at (414) 704-6731 (direct) or by email at