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Christensen Case Attorney says State ‘misconstrued’ jury poll

By Staff | Nov 6, 2016

Lee S. Christensen’s attorney,?Leon Spies of Iowa City, filed a reply Wednesday just after 5 p.m. to the State’s Memorandum of the legal issues in the jury poll held Oct. 18.

Christensen was convicted by an Emmet County jury of second degree murder in the shooting death of Thomas Bortvit on June 6, 2015.

Spies said the State, represented by Assistant State Attorney General Coleman McAllister and Emmet County Attorney Doug Hansen, misconstrued juror testimony.

Spies also said the evidence establishes misconduct. Spies said, “The fact that even one reasonable juror was exposed to prejudicial extraneous matter is sufficient to prove prejudicial outside influence.”?

Spies said the juror’s misconduct created bias and was presumptively prejudicial, and said, “Christensen was entitled to a jury of twelve actually unbiased jurors free from even the appearance of being manipulated by social media, a relative’s reports of possible civil unrest, or stray community comments.”?

Spies concluded, “The actual fact of jury misconduct, bias, and the appearance of an unfair trial mandate that Christensen’s motion for a new trial be granted.”?

Judge David Lester will provide his ruling on a new trial, or a date for sentencing, after his review of the jury poll or supplemental information