Juror Admits He Was Asked to Acquit Edwards During Trial
NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ The lone juror who voted to convict Gov. Edwin Edwards said Thursday night he was contacted by a union official during the trial and asked to find Edwards innocent.
A federal grant jury is investigating jury tampering during Edwards’ trial on racketeering and fraud charges.
U.S. District Judge Marcel Livaudais declared a mistrial when the jury could not reach a unanimous verdict for Edwards and four others. U.S. Attorney John Volz said he would try Edwards and the others again, probably next summer.
Clifford West, a 32-year-old electrician, told the grand jury Thursday that he had been approached by a union official about the Edwards case soon after the trial began Sept. 19.
He said the conversation occured at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers’ Local 130 union hall in suburban Metairie, but would not identify the union official.
As West and other jurors were leaving the federal courthouse during jury deliberations, he was seen flashing a “thumbs-down” sign to photographers.
Defense attorneys immediately asked Livaudais to disqualify West as a juror, but the judge refused.
In an interview with WDSU-TV, West said he did not tell the judge of the attempt by the union official at the time “because his attempt to influence me was not working. He didn’t offer me a job or money, just tried to influence my vote.”
After the mistrial was declared, it was disclosed that West was the lone holdout in one 11-1 vote to acquit Edwards of racketeering charges. West refused to comment further on what he told the grant jury. 3