The judge presiding over former NFL star Aaron Hernandez‘s murder trial has threatened to rule a mistrial on Thursday after learning that a news van from the Boston-based NBC affiliate station had followed two jurors after-hours Wednesday.
According to BuzzFeed, Judge E. Susan Garsh called a sidebar with both legal teams to discuss the alleged incident, and then this happened:
A male juror entered the courtroom and showed Judge Garsh something on his cell phone. He was then was sent out and a female juror entered and briefly approached the group. Smiling the entire time, she was sent out of the room.
Judge Garsh ordered the full twelve-person jury into the courtroom. The judge asked if they had read, heard, or had any conversations about the trial outside the courtroom – no one spoke up. This has been customary during the trial, but on Thursday Garsh’s questions came with extra emphasis.
Garsh instructed the jury to continue deliberating.
She then reportedly turned her attention to the media in the room, asking, “Does anyone here drive the WHDH news van?”
One of the local NBC station’s staffers stood up and she informed him of the transgressions: The two jurors claimed the news van had followed them after leaving court last night. “One juror said the van followed him from the parking lot and even continued on his trail after he did a u-turn,” BuzzFeed reported. “The juror took a photo of the van’s license plate, which is presumably what was shown on his cell phone during the sidebar discussion.”
The judge further warned that she might consider banning WHDH from the courtroom, especially considering it’s a felony to “harass” sitting jury members. According to BuzzFeed, Garsh also threatened the possibility of a mistrial should four jurors have to be dismissed because of such contact with media.
Judge Garsh later barred the unnamed WHDH van driver from being in proximity to the building, and she called upon the driver himself and/or WHDH management to testify this afternoon as to why they did it. If no one testifies, Garsh will bar the entire news organization from court grounds.
Watch below (blame the livestream for poor audio/video sync):
UPDATE — 04/09/15, 02:41 p.m. ET: Watch the Judge make her ruling below:
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