A guilty verdict was rendered in the Pan et al trial on December 13, 2014 and on January 23, 2015 co-accused Pan, Mylvaganam, Wong, and Crawford were sentenced to life in prison. Both events drew large crowds and it became clear that the shadow of Juror 4’s wife and her actions still lingered in the hallway as many members of the public questioned whether the perception of a fair trial had been tarnished.
To recap, it was revealed in mid-July that Juror 4’s wife, (who actually kept this fact hidden and pretended simply to be a member of the public) had been texting information to her husband in the jury room and he, in turn, shared these communications with other members of the jury. The trial had started in March and J4’s wife had attended almost every day.
The jury wrote a letter to the judge informing him of the situation and took the initiative to deem the information they received by the spouse as “immaterial.” Subsequently a hearing was held in open court in which each member of the jury was placed in the witness box and questioned as to exactly what information had been relayed. It came out that the information involved petty issues that took place in the hallways concerning tardiness amongst lawyers and witnesses and that an upcoming witness had large breasts. However, J1 and J2 revealed that they were aware of issues that had been dealt with in court when the jury was not present: Eric Carty’s lack of receiving a sandwich as well as other concerns of the accused regarding their lunches and comforts.
The situation seemed to be diffused until it was further revealed that the wife had been very vocal in the hallways, loudly expressing pro crown opinions and complimenting the police.
J4 was again put on the witness stand and questioned. He raised some eyebrows when he backtracked on a specific question regarding whether or not he was aware of any contact his wife may have had with other members or the jury. After initially and immediately responding “No,” J4 then corrected himself and stated that one juror lived near him, that they have carpooled and had social gatherings together at their home. It appeared as though J4 suddenly realized that the rest of the jury might also be questioned and he would be caught in a lie so he had to modify his answer.
Jennifer Pan’s attorney Paul Cooper was adamant that J4 and his wife be criminally investigated for their actions and that their phones should be seized. The wife was called “deceitful” by Carty’s counsel who said he had approached her at the beginning of the trial and asked her who she was. She had stated to him that she liked watching trials and failed to disclose that her husband was on the jury. Attorney Edward Sapiano stated that, while he did not wish to become a witness himself, he wanted the court to know that, on occasion, he had casually discussed aspects of the trial with her throughout the months.
All defence counsel wanted J4 dismissed from the jury while the crown, who initially took no position on the matter, later argued for him to remain on the basis that the matter was “much ado about nothing.”
The wife fiasco caused a buzz around the courthouse: how could the trial move forward fairly? Would a mistrial ensue? In the end, there was no mistrial, neither was J4 dismissed from the jury. But Justice Boswell banned J4’s wife from the courtroom. (Eric Carty did eventually receive a mistrial on September 8, 2014 after his lawyer fell ill. Carty is still awaiting trial.)
So the trial continued, with many wondering if there was just too much at stake to declare a mistrial and start over. The Pan trial was already into month five of what was supposed to be a 6-month trial and at that point there was no end in sight of the crown wrapping up its case.
On a personal note, I question just how “immaterial” the text communications that J4’s wife sent into the jury room were. She was one of the public that I exchanged contact information with. E-mail correspondence exists between the wife and myself in which she expressed the strongly worded opinion that she felt it was wrong that the jury was at times excluded from proceedings because, as she put it, the jury should know everything and all “should be out in the open.”
By her own admission, throughout her correspondence with myself and others in court, J4’s wife expressed that she was “obsessed” with the case and had “withdrawals” on weekends and days off. She also stated that she had searched social media outlets including Facebook for profiles of the co-defendants.
It seems this is indicative of someone who very well may be willing to disobey the rules of the court. In the end, people were left wondering about J4 and his wife and their texts.
And the inappropriate behaviour of one juror in particular heightened my concern.
After the wife was gone, over the course of the rest of the trial, I was personally approached by J3 on at least three separate occasions. (J3 was the carpooler and the one who had a social event with J4 at his house.) One day, after viewing a lengthy police video interview of Lenford Crawford’s, J3 came out of the courthouse. I was speaking to another individual, but J3 made eye contact with me and asked, “how did you not fall asleep today?” implying that the day’s testimony was boring and painful. He then went on to speak briefly about cell phone testimony.
Another time, I arrived late to the courthouse after lunch one day and saw some jurors socializing and smoking by their cars in the parking lot. Among them was J3. I asked if they had been dismissed for the day and indeed they had been. I then proceeded to the courthouse in order to find out if a voir dire was taking place. Typically when the jurors were released early there were legal issues being discussed in court that the jurors were not privy to.
Later, as I exited the courthouse and proceeded to my vehicle I noticed a black Porsche Cayenne slowly driving up the aisle in the parking lot and stopping as if it was waiting for me. Turned out I was right because as I approached the Cayenne, a dark tinted window rolled down to reveal J3’s face looking directly at me. With a squint of his eyes and a head nod, he asked, “so, what’s going on in there?”
As if I’d fall for that.
On another occasion J3 approached me as I left the courthouse and walked along with me talking about the weather. As usual J4 wasn’t far away, in a huddle and cackling with J8 just a foot or two away.
In mid-August Jennifer Pan was on the stand – one of the most anticipated and dramatic parts of the trial. But, J4 had other things on his mind and controversy was stirred up once again by J4 and his sidekick – future foreman, J3.
A letter was given to the crown and subsequently submitted to the judge with copies to all defence counsel. The letter stated that J3 and J4 had approached police officers after court on August 20, 2014 at approximately 4:30pm to complain about a member of the public that had apparently become “a distraction.”
This was a direct violation of juror rules and it is important to note that this came about during Jennifer Pan’s testimony in a packed to-the-brim courtroom of journalists, reporters and other media and public.
While everyone else in the packed courtroom was riveted by the testimony of Jennifer Pan, J 4 and J3 were distracted by a young blonde female who, as it turned out, was myself.
I was advised by counsel of the letter and the overall absurdity of the situation before court commenced in order to prepare me for the possibility that I was to become the focus of court that day on this first degree murder trial. However, Justice Boswell declined to deal with the matter that day, and instead pressed on with the trial. Ultimately, the issue of “distraction” raised by J 4 and 3 was never addressed in court and J4 and J3 failed in their attempt to have me banned from the courtoom (like his wife was).
At the end of the day on August 21, 2014 Justice Boswell addressed the jury and told them that, although he had instructed them on the rules and regulations of jury duty at the beginning of the trial, he felt it was warranted and important that he repeat them again that day. He then proceeded to tell the members of the jury not to speak to anyone including family, friends, co-workers, police officers, court staff, lawyers, media or members of the public about the case, nor were they to approach police, court staff, lawyers, media, and members of the public. If a concern arose, they were to notify the court security officer who oversaw them and nobody else. He urged them to immediately get into their vehicles after court completed for the day and go “straight home.”
The jurors were dismissed for a three week break after the judge’s directions and they immediately hit the parking lot where they were seen smoking, socializing and just generally hanging around as they often did, disregarding the judge’s instructions to them just moments before.
Jury conduct raised eyebrows at various times throughout the trial. During Jennifer Pan’s direct examination a message was relayed to the judge about the length of her testimony.
They stated that they were becoming anxious about how long her direct examination was going to be. After 6+ months of crown testimony, much of which was comprised of excruciatingly boring cell phone record testimony by phone experts, it seemed unconscionable that the jury was anxious after just three days of hearing what was, to all intents and purposes, the testimony of the star of the show.
Designated recesses were given to lawyers, staff and jurors throughout the course of the trial. Fifteen minute breaks in the morning and again in the afternoon and an hour and fifteen minutes for lunch. Oftentimes, due to unforeseen but legitimate reasons involving staff, lawyers, or the accused, the 15-minute breaks would run closer to 20-25 minutes. And oftentimes legal issues arose that were hashed out in court by motions and applications brought by either the crown or defence. The jury was excused at these times as they were not privy to these arguments. Often delays became lengthy and patience was demanded from all involved in the nine months of testimony during the Pan et al trial.
One morning a note was found in the jury room by one of the court services officers. The note contained tabs kept of the duration of time the jury spent inside the courtroom listening to testimony, versus the amount of time spent locked in the jury room, excluded from legal arguments.
The note was brought to the attention of Justice Boswell who in turn chastised the jury and attempted to explain to them the complicated legal components of a Superior Court criminal trial. It was neither their concern nor job to keep tabs or focus on issues such as time, he stated. Of vital importance was to ensure that each of the accused receive a fair trial.
Ironically, in May 2014 Justice Boswell attempted to shorten the lunch hour from 75 minutes to 60 in an attempt to move the trial along more efficiently. However, the 60 minute lunches were swiftly shot down in less than a week by the jury who wrote a note and complained to the judge that they wanted their extra 15 minutes for lunch. This request was granted. There were times throughout the trial that the jury would plan a “group lunch” at restaurants like the Pickle Barrel and request extra time on those occasions.
As the months dragged along, the jury became used to asking for time off. Eventually they began requesting time off on a weekly basis and from September to the remainder of the trial which ended in December, there was not one full week of sitting. Conveniently, the majority of the days requested off made for extra long weekends as Thursdays, Fridays, and Mondays were most often desired.
Despite the humiliation of being banned from court proceedings, who should show up for the verdict and sentencing but J4’s wife. Obviously she had a lot of interest invested in the case as she made a point to get back into that courtroom. She was also seen speaking with media and she sat beside a reporter from the Toronto Sun on both occasions. Husband J4 and sidekick J3 also made a point of being there for the sentencing.
Each of the convicted are entitled to a process of appeals, which is the next step in their individual cases. Of the four co-accused convicted, all are seeking an appeal.
Misconduct in the Jury Room – https://jenniferpantrial.wordpress.com/2014/12/12/behind-the-scenes-misconduct-in-the-jury-room/
Mr Sub Vs Swiss Chalet – https://jenniferpantrial.wordpress.com/2014/12/13/behind-the-scenes-convictions-going-down-but-more-importantly-mr-sub-vs-swiss-chalet/
Sentencing – https://jenniferpantrial.wordpress.com/2015/01/23/jennifer-pan-co-accused-sentenced-to-life-in-prison/