A First Circuit Court judge Wednesday released a prospective juror who was jailed overnight for shouting “He is guilty! He is guilty!” in the presence of his fellow would-be jurors.
Judge Edward Kubo on Tuesday had declared a mistrial and dismissed all 44 potential jurors, saying the “blatant and willful disturbance” by Jacob Maldonado had “infected” the whole panel. Kubo charged Maldonado with contempt of court and ordered him held on a $10,000 cash-only bail.
At a hearing Wednesday morning, Maldonado apologized to Kubo for his outbreak. “I wasn’t thinking right that day. I didn’t mean for it to go this far.”
Jason Burks, Maldonado’s court-appointed attorney, said his client was under “extreme hardship” because his father had been diagnosed with prostate cancer two days earlier and his wife was at the doctor being tested to determine whether she had cancer.
“Instead of being with her, he obeyed his summons and came to court. At the point he was making his comments he wasn’t trying to taint the jury, he wasn’t trying to poison everybody, I don’t think he really thought (about) the consequences of what his comments were in the long-run,” said Burks. “He was trying to get out of jury duty.”
At the hearing, Kubo asked Maldonado how his father and wife are doing. Then he asked him if he understood how difficult it was for him to release an entire jury panel of 44 people who came to the courthouse for nothing.
“You know, really, this scenario is no different from the airplane scenario where somebody as a joke says that there is a bomb aboard a plane and causes the plane to turn around, dump their fuel and bring the passengers back,” said Kubo. “And so they have to take it seriously and we have to as well.”
Kubo offered Maldonado a suggestion of how he could have better handled the situation.
“A piece of advice that I would give you is to raise your hand and to just say honestly you have so much facing you as far as your father and your wife and you need to be with them right now and cannot think and therefore you cannot concentrate on the trial,” Kubo said.
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