The reasons for the plaintiff to appeal the verdict of the recent Ed Schultz trial are piling up. A seven-member jury took four hours last week to rule in favor of Schultz. Michael Queen, an NBC producer and sound engineer who works in NBC’s Washington bureau, sued the MSNBC host for breach of partnership.
For starters, before members of the jury were sent off to deliberate, the judge bizarrely ordered them to disregard any mention by the plaintiff’s attorney, Catfish Abbott, that Schultz had erased all emails that had any relation to the case. The judge said there was no proof that Schultz erased his emails — unless of course you want to take Schultz at his word. Just days earlier he testified that he had erased his emails, saying he’s been hacked and that his public status makes it necessary for him to routinely erase his emails.
But there’s another dicey issue.
A member of the jury with close family ties to one of the defense witnesses, Paul Woodhull, was allowed to remain on the jury even after telling the judge that his children have played with Woodhull’s six children in their Capitol Hill neighborhood.
Woodhull runs Media Syndication Services, Inc. on Capitol Hill.
At the time, Judge Beryl Howell, who clearly sided with the defendants all week long, nastily dismissed Abbott’s reasoning that the juror — Gary Carleton, an attorney who is senior counsel at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority — may feel “embarrassed” ruling against the defense since his family interacts with the witness’s children in their Capitol Hill community. Abbott wanted this particular juror thrown out.
As it happens, that juror was not just a humdrum member of the jury.
He became the jury foreman, and as the judge instructed, was responsible for organizing the discussions and getting everyone to reach a united conclusion.
So much for a fair trial.
Woodhull, in a phone conversation with The Mirror on Tuesday, appeared to have absolutely no earthly idea what I was talking about when I suggested to him that a member of the jury has neighborly ties to his family.
“I literally have no idea what you are talking about,” said Woodhull. When told there was a juror who had ties to his family, he replied, “I really have no idea what you’re talking about. I really don’t know anything about any juror member or any children at all. No idea at all. I don’t know that name.”
When I suggested he may have a problem with the English language, Woodhull replied, “I hear the words you are saying, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
No formal decisions have been made on whether the plaintiff will appeal the case.