For release on January 8, 2014
Deputy District Attorney
Central Felonies Unit
SAN JOSE MAN CHARGED WITH JURY TAMPERING
In a rare prosecution, a San Jose man was charged this week with felony jury tampering, accused of trying to send a note to a juror during his trial.
Jose Chavez’s handwritten note contained personal information that a judge had ruled was inadmissible and not to be heard by the jury. The note was rejected by a juror, who reported it to the courtroom bailiff.
The 31-year-old faces up to six years in prison, if convicted.
“Defendants are strictly prohibited from communicating with the jury unless a judge permits it,’’ prosecutor Daniel Rothbach said. “Evidence shows that the defendant knew this information was off-limits and he knew that he should not communicate with the jurors.”
In July 2013, Chavez was on trial for possession of methamphetamine for sale. The judge had ruled to exclude from the jury evidence of the death of Chavez’s four-year-old daughter in a meth-related fire in 2012. Chavez was out of custody and his step-father was attending the trial. Chavez wrote a note in which he explained the circumstances of his daughter’s death. He wrote “jury” on the outside of the note. He asked his step-father to deliver the note to one of the trial jurors that the defendant had determined looked “sort of kind.”
On July 26, 2013, during a break in the trial, the step-father approached the juror and attempted to hand over the note. The juror refused to take it. The step-father walked away and threw the note in the garbage. The juror reported the contact with step-father to the bailiff, who in turn reported it to the judge and the attorneys.
Chavez was convicted of the underlying drug sales charge and is pending sentencing, scheduled for January 27, 2014. He faces up to ten years in prison on that charge.