A woman who served on the jury for convicted powerbroker William Cellini's trial told a federal judge Friday that she doesn't know why she failed to disclose her prior criminal convictions and later stormed out of the courtroom yelling, "Leave me alone!"
Candy Chiles was questioned at an evidentiary hearing called after it was discovered that she gave inaccurate answers during jury selection when she said she didn't have any convictions. She had pleaded guilty in the 1990s to felony drug possession charges and in 2008 to felony aggravated DUI.
Cellini was convicted Nov. 1 of trying to shake down a Hollywood producer for a campaign donation. His attorneys are seeking a new trial , arguing Chiles shouldn't have been allowed to serve on the jury and had a built-in bias because she lied about her background. Prosecutors argue the juror wasn't automatically disqualified.
Chiles made it clear from the beginning of the hearing that she was "uncomfortable" with the idea of being questioned by defense attorney Dan Webb, and the two clashed frequently during the hearing.
"You're frowning at me," Webb said to her at one point.
"Because you're acting like I'm a criminal," she replied, glaring at him.
A few minutes later, a clearly frustrated Chiles asked what her background had to do with the case and yelled, "Leave me alone! Leave me alone!" as Judge James Zagel called a recess and she angrily left the courtroom.
Zagel chastised Webb for "provoking" Chiles and suggested he change his tone to be less hostile.
"You are not helping yourself, and you are clearly not helping me," Zagel said to Webb. "You're fighting with the witness. You're inciting the witness."
Webb denied being hostile, but he became noticeably less pointed after the recess, addressing the juror as "Mrs. Chiles" and even smiling at her several times.
Chiles was unswayed, telling him, "I sat here for five weeks ... I see how you work."
Zagel questioned Chiles earlier in the day, and she had little explanation for why she failed to disclose her convictions.
"I don't know," she said. "I was confused."
She said her 1999 conviction for possession of cocaine was a part of her past she doesn't talk about.
Zagel didn't issue a ruling on a new hearing for Cellini. He asked both sides to file written briefs and prepare for oral arguments in the next few weeks before he makes a decision.
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