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Juror Furor

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The transcripts contained Cotey's fellow jurors' statements about why they'd concluded that she was incapable of continuing as a juror.

In a response to a question posed by Dowd, the jury foreman said that Cotey frequently could not recall what was being voted on. "As we progressed, all of us started to notice these statements coming that made no sense," the foreman said.

That contention was supported by the other 10 jurors, all of whom stated that Cotey appeared confused.

Strand had been notified by a note from the jury foreman on August 19 that the jury had a serious problem with one juror. The foreman told the judge that all jurors, including Cotey, were aware of the note's contents.

The foreman later told Strand that Cotey's colleagues on the jury were unanimous in their desire that the note be sent. The note stated, "We, the jury, respectfully request that this information be kept confidential.

"We have earnestly attempted to follow your last directive to continue with our deliberations. However, the majority of the jurors sincerely feel that the juror in question cannot properly participate in the discussion with us.

"Reasons: Inability to maintain a focus on the subject of discussion.
"Inability to recall topics under discussion.
"Refusal to discuss views with other jurors.

"All information must be repeated two to three times to be understood, discussed, or voted on. Immediately following a vote, the juror cannot tell us what was voted.

"We question the ability to comprehend and focus on the information discussed. . . ."

Jurors also said Cotey had made up her mind on the case prior to evidence on all 21 criminal counts being reviewed.

After learning Cotey's identity on August 20, New Times compared public records against the answers Cotey gave on her sworn juror questionnaire last May.

Within minutes, New Times found that Cotey had submitted a false statement on the questionnaire.

Cotey stated on her questionnaire that she had never been "involved in a civil lawsuit." However, Maricopa County Superior Court records show Cotey was a litigant in a 1987 civil suit.

In a rambling August 20 interview, Cotey told New Times she didn't remember being involved in civil litigation, although she remembers a traffic accident that appears to be related to the lawsuit.

"It's not in my memory. I would remember something like that," Cotey said.
Assistant defense attorney Terry Lynam downplays the discrepancy. "Who knows how she interpreted that question?" Lynam said.

But the question was straightforward: "Have you or a family member or close friend ever been involved in a civil lawsuit other than a domestic relations proceeding or a legal proceeding involving the probate or settlement of a family member's estate?"

New Times posted a lengthy story detailing Cotey's false statement along with the supporting documents on its Web site on the evening of August 20. Copies of the story and supporting public records were also made available in the federal court press room the next day.

Nevertheless, Cotey's false statement remains ignored by mainstream media--except for a brief reference of the New Times Web-site story on Channel 3's 10 p.m. August 20 newscast.

Initially, Cotey was a defendant in the case that began in East Phoenix Justice Court and was later transferred to Maricopa County Superior Court, where Cotey filed a counterclaim against the other motorist, Chris McMann.

Cotey hired Scottsdale attorney John H. Happ to represent her in a personal-injury lawsuit filed in Superior Court stemming from an automobile accident in which she claimed to have suffered "serious injury to her neck, back, left shoulder, left arm, left leg and headaches." Happ has an unlisted phone number and could not be reached for comment.

Court records show Cotey sought in excess of $2,500 in damages stemming from injuries plus additional compensation for lost wages.

Records show Cotey's case was sent to arbitration in 1988 but do not indicate whether an arbitrator ever reviewed the matter. The arbitrator, Gerald K. Gaffaney, said last week after reviewing his 1988 calendar that he doesn't recall hearing the matter. The case was dismissed by Judge Alan S. Kamin in November 1989.

Cotey certified that she gave truthful answers to the questions when she submitted the juror questionnaire. She could face perjury charges if she knowingly provided false information.

Cotey's false answer on the questionnaire apparently was unknown to the court and attorneys and was not a consideration in her removal from the jury.

There is at least one other item in Cotey's questionnaire that appears to contradict some of her public statements and raises questions of whether Cotey was avoiding press accounts of the trial, as jurors had been instructed.

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John Dougherty
Contact: John Dougherty