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McAllister resists defense motion for jury poll

By Staff | Sep 6, 2016

State Assistant Attorney General Coleman McAllister backed up his Resistance to the defense motion for a jury poll Tuesday in the case of Lee Christensen.

Christensen was convicted July 1 of murder in the second degree in the June 6, 2015 death of Thomas Bortvit.

McAllister said the defense relied on a case entitled Gathercole, which deals with the court’s refusal to grant a jury poll during trial after an inaccurate online newspaper article in that case possibly influenced the jury.

McAllister pointed out “the defense waived its right to a jury poll right after the verdict and made no request for one during trial.”?

A jury poll now would require the jury from the case to be reconvened, according to McAllister’s Resistance.

Even if the legal authority exists, McAllister wrote, the Facebook post in question and the facts and circumstances surrounding the case do not demand a jury poll.

McAllister quoted in his Resistance the jury instruction which, he said, sternly admonished the jurors to avoid all publicity surrounding the trial, including text, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, email, and further instructed the jurors to not conduct their own research on the case.

McAllister wrote there was no evidence the post reached the jury collectively, nor any individual juror, and there was no evidence any juror violated the instruction about reading publicity surrounding the trial.

A June 30 Facebook post discussed rumors of a riot should the jury not return a verdict of first degree murder in the case.

“Finally, and perhaps most importantly,”?McAllister wrote, “the jury did not return a verdict of first degree murder.”?

A hearing on the defense requests for jury poll and a new trial is scheduled for Friday at the Emmet County Courthouse.