Defense Lawyers Argue Gotti Got Unfair Trial
Jun. 22, 1992
NEW YORK (AP) _ John Gotti's federal murder and racketeering convictions should be overturned because the Gambino crime family boss got an unfair trial, defense lawyers told a federal judge Monday.
Two jurors also have been quoted as saying the trial was unfair and that they voted to convict Gotti because of government pressure.
Judge I. Leo Glasser said he would rule Tuesday on whether to hold a hearing on the defense lawyers' arguments. But he refused to delay Gotti's sentencing, also scheduled for Tuesday. Gotti wasn't at Monday's hearing.
Gotti and a top lieutenant, Frank Locascio, face life imprisonment for their April 2 convictions on racketeering charges that included murder, murder conspiracy, obstruction of justice, gambling, loan sharking, extortion and tax fraud.
Civil-rights lawyer William M. Kunstler asked in court papers that the verdicts be set aside because of ''gross misconduct'' by prosecutors.
Kunstler asserted that prosecutors engineered a juror's dismissal just before the start of deliberations ''merely because the government did not like her or thought that she would be unfavorable to its case.''
The defense also said one juror was unfairly biased against the defendants because she was married to a former FBI agent. That relationship came out not during jury selection but late in the trial.
''I do think that the cumulative effect of all of this was to create an unfair jury which was designed to convict these defendants,'' Kunstler said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney John Gleeson called Kunstler's arguments frivolous and ''filled with gross, deliberate misstatements of fact.''
Recently two of the jurors who convicted Gotti in just 13 hours have come forward to complain about the trial. The anonymous jurors were sequestered in an undisclosed hotel throughout the 10-week trial because of allegations of jury tampering in other Gotti trials.
''I truly believe that both Gotti and Locascio were not proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt,'' one panelist, identified as Juror No. 12, was quoted by the Daily News as saying.
He said he voted to convict because of problems at home and fear of the government.
''I'm sorry that I didn't hold out, but I was under a lot of pressure,'' he said.
WNBC-TV reported last week that another juror wrote an apologizing letter to Locascio, saying the jury voted to convict because ''we were so frightened by the marshals and the FBI.''
However, another juror, in a letter to the judge that was made public Monday, said the trial and deliberations were fair.
''The jury analyzed each count methodically and completely, applying critical detail to the law as prescribed by your charge. There was never any mention of fear, favoritism or unfairness,'' wrote the juror, whose name wasn't disclosed.
Gotti, 51, and Locascio, 59, have been in jail without bail since their arrests in December 1990.
Gotti was convicted of orchestrating the December 1985 assassination of Gambino boss Paul Castellano to seize control of the nation's most powerful crime syndicate.