WASHINGTON — A juror who vanished during Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens' corruption trial told the judge Monday she lied about her father's death and instead flew to California to see a horse race.
U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan ordered Marian Hinnant to return to court to explain why she disappeared during jury deliberations. Hinnant, 52, brought a stack of handwritten notes and told the judge that her father hadn't died and that she was at the Breeders' Cup in Arcadia, Calif.
She apologized for lying, then started a rambling story about horses, which included references to horse breeding, drugs, President Ford's son Steven and her condo in Florida being bugged.
"Can I have a case of my own?" Hinnant asked. Sullivan referred her to the federal public defender's office and excused her.
Outside the courthouse, when asked what she thought about Stevens' case, Hinnant said: "He didn't do anything any other congressman or senator or governor or president has not done. "
Hinnant told court officials late on Oct. 23 that her father had died and that she had to fly to California the next morning. The judge halted the deliberations, which had begun the day before, to let her take care of her father's affairs. However, Hinnant did not return telephone calls from court officials, and Sullivan replaced her on Oct. 27. The jury convicted Stevens the same day of lying to hide hundreds of thousands of dollars of gifts and home renovations.
Stevens said it is clear Hinnant, an Avis car-rental agent, "lied to the court. … It is now even clearer this was an unjust trial and a flawed verdict."
It's unlikely that Hinnant's lies as a juror could be grounds for overturning the verdict or for an appeal, said Mike Seidman, a law professor at Georgetown University Law Center.