Kenneth Rijock

Kenneth Rijock

Monday, March 16, 2020

ALI SADR JURY DELIBERATIONS NOW FEATURE A VIRTUAL JUROR



In a move that reflects what the Court referred to as "extraordinary circumstances," one of the eleven jurors currently deliberating the fate of Ali Sadr Hasheminejad, the Iranian sanctions evader, has been designated a "Virtual Juror,* " eligible to video conference with his fellow jurors, to reach a verdict. The jurors were dismissed over the weekend, and only ten returned in person. The Court proposed to proceed with the ten jurors in attendance, plus the virtual juror, connected electronically via video link.

According to reports, there is definitely no Federal case law on point, but given the Coronavirus situation, the Court's decision appears to the in the best interests of justice. Defense counsel had no objection to the virtual juror; the US Attorney's Office did object, but the Court proceeded accordingly.



On a related note, should Ali Sadr be found guilty by the jury, the Court will most likely order him taken into custody, to await sentencing, given his non-citizen immigration status, and proven financial ability as a flight risk. If he is then in custody, the Coronavirus situation has caused the Bureau of Prisons to cancel all visits, even legal visits for 30 days. This may adversely impact Sadr's ability to consult with his counsel, in person, prior to sentencing, to discuss sentencing strategy, review documents, and line up possible witnesses to testify or send correspondence.
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* Not to be confused with the type of Virtual Juror who is privately hired by counsel, in advance of trial, to review a case at home, and send in their opinion on guilt or innocence, being paid for their labor by counsel. These individuals are also referred to as Mock Jurors or eJurors.    

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