O.J. mistrial motion rejected Reworked jury today continues its


  Jonathan T. Lovitt ; Richard Price


  USA Today


  Page 03A

  (Copyright 1997)


  SANTA MONICA, Calif. -- Judge Hiroshi Fujisaki refused to grant O.J.

  Simpson a mistrial in his civil suit Monday, and a reconstituted jury completed

  its ninth hour of deliberations.


  Jurors asked for a read-back of unspecified testimony when they resume work

  today at 8:30 a.m. PT.


  Simpson lawyer Robert Baker argued for the mistrial primarily on grounds of

  jury misconduct. He cited ``a direct, deliberate attempt to mislead.''


  He was referring to Rosemary Caraway, 62, the juror dismissed Friday for failing

  to disclose that her daughter is a legal secretary with the Los Angeles County

  district attorney's office.


  Her daughter worked for prosecutors involved in Simpson's criminal case, former

  prosecutor Christopher Darden said Monday on NBC's Today. Authorities in the

  district attorney's office alerted Fujisaki but would not discuss how or when they

  discovered the conflict.


  Caraway was replaced by an alternate. The jury, already 14 hours into

  deliberations at the time, was ordered to start over.


  The jury is deciding whether Simpson is liable for the murders June 12, 1994, of

  Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. Goldman's parents and the estates

  of both victims are plaintiffs.


  Lawyer Daniel Petrocelli, who represents Goldman's father, Fred, rejected

  Baker's motion as an act of desperation. ``They're doing anything to get a

  mistrial,'' he said.


  Courts do not routinely conduct background checks of jurors. With hundreds of

  thousands of citizens ordered to jury service each year, judges don't have the

  resources to investigate every one.


  And even if they did, judges don't want to treat jurors as if they're on trial,

  analysts say. ``Otherwise we'd turn into a society where 12 jurors and their

  lawyers will serve jury duty,'' jury consultant Robert Hirschhorn says. ``Jury duty

  is onerous enough.''


  Lawyers and jury consultants sometimes run public records checks on jurors'

  voting and legal histories. But pulling a private record, such as a credit history or

  a police rap sheet or interviewing employers and neighbors, could amount to

  invasion of privacy or jury tampering, Hirschhorn says.


  In Baker's written motion, he also lost a second argument for a mistrial. He cited

  last week's suspension of four FBI lab workers during a U.S. Justice Department

  investigation into sloppy crime lab techniques and accusations of bias in favor of

  the prosecution.


  One of those suspended was FBI agent Roger Martz, who testified for

  prosecutors at Simpson's criminal trial and was an expert for the plaintiffs in the

  civil trial.


  Without elaborating, Baker argued that both the probe into the FBI and the

  suspension of Martz were ``intentionally withheld until following the close of the

  defense's case.'' But the issue was not raised in open court, and Fujisaki rejected

  it without discussion.


  Contributing: Gale Holland

  PHOTO, B/W, Bob Riha Jr., USA TODAY