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Panel Asked For High-Class Hotels, Good Food, No Future Jury Duty

November 24, 1986

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) _ A jury has asked a judge for high-class hotel rooms, meals at high-class restaurants, lifetime immunity from future jury duty and post-trial psychiatric treatment.

The jurors also wanted the court to send a letter of appreciation to their employers.

The requests were made to Westchester County Court Judge Francis Nicolai in two letters signed by the 12 jurors and three alternates.

The panel has been hearing testimony since April 2 in the case of three people charged with sexually abusing about a dozen children, aged 5 to 9, at an unlicensed day care center.

Victor Schurr, attorney for defendant Richard Freeman, a center employee charged with two misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of a child, asked for a mistrial based on the juror’s letter to Nikolai on Thursday requesting optional post-trial psychological counseling. The mistrial motion was denied.

The letter also asked that the court ″acknowledge all of our employers and commend, in writing, their generous financial contribution to the judicial process.″

It also requested that ″legal machinery be put into motion to guarantee that members of this jury can choose to be excused from future jury duty in Westchester County.″

Nicolai told the panel that while he could not guarantee such immunity, as long as he sat on the bench in the county he would assist in relieving them of future jury duty.

″We’made made a lot of demands on them, it’s understandable that they make demands on us,″ Nicolai said.

In a letter to the court two weeks ago, the jurors mentioned places they would like to dine during deliberations at county and state expense: such high-toned restaurants as Gasho, a Japanese steakhouse, Gregory’s, Oliver’s and La Reserve. All are high-priced and not normally used for jurors.

The jurors also said they would prefer to be sequestered in a hotel in downtown White Plains, where the top hotels in the county are concentrated. Generally, Westchester juries are sequested in neighboring Rockland County.

The panel was told that officials of the judicial district, and not the trial judge, determine where it will be sequestered.

According to court records, the jurors also asked to be free from deliberating during the Christmas and Hanukkah holidays.

Nicolai assured the jury that it would be free from Dec. 22 to Jan. 5 and promised that if testimony ended after Dec. 10 he would not sequester them until January. The other requests have not been addressed by the judge.

Jeanette Martin, who operated the day care center, and James Watt, an employee, were charged with multiple rape and sexual abuse counts. Watt also was charged with several sodomy counts.

Three misdemeanor counts against Mrs. Martin’s husband, Harold, were dismissed last week.

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