Convicted Whitmer kidnap conspirators seek trial No. 3, suspected juror fraud

Convicted kidnapping conspirators Adam Fox and Barry Croft Jr. suspect a biased or potentially rigged juror may have swayed the outcome of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s kidnapping conspiracy trial, if their recent court testimony is any indication.

Late Tuesday, attorneys for Fox and Croft Jr. they requested what is known as a Remmer hearing – which is a legal process conducted to determine whether a juror has been improperly influenced or engaged in misconduct. If the results of the hearing show that such influence or misconduct did occur and harmed the defendant, then a convicted defendant may request a new trial.

In this case, Fox and Croft have already been tried twice — convicted the second time — and are now asking for a third trial — though the full details of that request remain unknown because the filing is sealed. What is known, however, is that the filing includes a request for a hearing to consider possible juror misconduct — an issue that dogged the defendants throughout the trial as an alleged problem juror appeared after opening statements and was never removed.

This combination of images is provided by the Kent County, Mich., Jail. shows Adam Fox (left) and Barry Croft Jr.

The judge handled the jury charges on his own

According to court documents, the defense received a tip on the second day of the trial that one of the jurors allegedly told a colleague he was biased against the defendants, hoped to impanel the jury and would see to it that they were convicted.

As it turns out, court records show that this information came from a second-hand source — not the person who allegedly heard the alleged comment at work. That person never came forward and declined to be identified, court records show.

None of this was to come, as U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker quickly sealed the defense file on the alleged troubled juror — though the Free Press obtained a copy of it before it was sealed.

To the defense’s dismay, Jonker handled the matter himself — interviewing the juror in private in his chambers in a 7-minute interview that ended with the judge convinced the juror never made such a comment and could remain in jury. Two court officials also attended the interview.

More:Whitmer Kidnapping Trial No. 3? Don’t count on it, experts say.

More:Judge Unseals Documents on Allegedly Crooked Juror in Whitmer Kidnapping Trial

According to a transcript of that interview, the juror told the judge he never made such a comment to any of his colleagues and didn’t know what case the jury was called for until he got to court and saw all the news trucks.

Jonker believed the juror, who has not been identified.

Meanwhile, Fox and Croft Jr. are mounting what their lawyers have vowed will be a strong appeal as both men face life in prison after a jury convicted them of conspiracy to kidnap and conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction.

Fox and Croft Jr., who will be sentenced in December, have long maintained that it was just big talk created by rogue FBI agents and informants, who they claim masterminded the kidnapping and ran the entire show. Prosecutors convinced jurors otherwise, telling jurors that Fox and Croft did more than talk, but also that Whitmer’s home, conducted training exercises, made explosives and tried to buy more explosives as part of a scheme blowing up a bridge near Whitmer’s house. to slow down law enforcement.

Fox and Croft Jr. are among six men arrested by the FBI in 2020 on charges of plotting to kidnap Whitmer out of anger over her handling of the pandemic. Of the six, two pleaded guilty, two were sentenced to retrial and two others were acquitted in April. Others face state charges in the case.

Meanwhile, both the defense and prosecution are under a gag order that prevents either side from discussing any matter related to the jury.

Tresa Baldas: tbaldas@freepress.com

This article originally appeared in the Detroit Free Press: Convicted Whitmer kidnap conspirators ask for new trial, possible jury bias

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